Guwahati: Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in his 2019-20 Budget Wednesday announced a series of proposals and relief packages for the benefit of Self Help Groups (SHGs) and economically weaker section of the society.

Sarma said that during 2019-20, capital subsidy of Rs 50,000 on bank loans would be provided to 63,000 SHGs and they would also be incentivised to go for bank loans by providing an interest subvention of 3 percent.

“We will also bring another 63,000 new SHGs under the ambit of the Vistarita Kanaklata Mahila Sabalikaran Yojana. These newly adopted SHGs will be given the initial revolving fund of Rs 25,000 under this scheme. The total number of SHGs which shall come under the ambit of the scheme by 2019- 20 will be 1,95,000 which denotes the emerging women empowerment story of our state,” he said.

The government will give one tola gold (price of around Rs 38,000 today) for brides belonging to families earning less than Rs 5 lakh per annum. A new scheme where rice would be sold at Rs 1 per kg to benefit 53 lakh families was also announced.

On healthcare, the minister proposed to expand the coverage of Atal Amrit Abhiyan to include ICU packages, trauma critical care, paediatrics and paediatric surgery, besides bone marrow transplantation benefitting a large chunk of poor and middle class.

“During the financial year 2019-20, I would like to continue with two important schemes that were launched on 28th January 2019. The farmers will continue to get 25 percent subsidy on their short term crop loans taken against Kisan Credit Cards up to a maximum limit of Rs 25,000. The second scheme is to continue with zero interest on short-term crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh,” Sarma said.

File image of Himanta Biswa Sarma. Twitter @himantabiswa

File image of Himanta Biswa Sarma. Twitter @himantabiswa

Under the Asom Darshan tourism development initiative, a huge positive socio-economic impact is expected to be achieved on the state by developing and publicising various places of tourist interest, he said. He said a list of around 316 destinations has been drawn up for upgrading of basic infrastructure and amenities.

For restoration of Sri Sri Batadrava Than in Nagaon district, one of the oldest and best-known thans (sacred place) founded by 15-16th century Assamese saint-scholar, social-religious reformer, poet and playwright, Srimanta Sankaradeva, the minister proposed Rs 155 crore so that it gets its deserved place in the annals of spiritual destinations in India.

For boatmen, restaurant owners, affected by the commissioning of the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge and Bogibeel Bridge affecting their livelihood, the finance minister said Rs 5 crore has been earmarked as relief package to rehabilitate such individuals with an alternate source of income through the enterprise of the Inland Water Transport Department.

An amount of Rs 70 crore has also been earmarked to roll out 1,000 new buses in Assam over the next three years.

Sarma on Wednesday presented a Rs 1,193 crore deficit budget for 2019-20 with no fresh taxes.

–With PTI inputs

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