Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has called for oil exploration along the disputed border with Assam, besides allowing liquor sales in star category hotels.
Rio was speaking at the budget session that put focus not only on infrastructure development but also agribusiness. He said the state government plans to begin oil research and extraction in the Disputed Area Belt (DAB) soon after the tripartite MoU among the Centre, Nagaland and Assam is inked.
The state government will also look at the potential of initially launching sale of lotteries within Nagaland.
Rio proposed allowing the sale of alcohol to “foreigners” visiting the state, which is permitted within the ambit of the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act, 1989, by certain hotels of star category, while also emphasising the need to mobilise more resources to meet its growing developmental needs.
On whether the state government would contemplate lifting the restriction on the sale of alcohol, the chief minister responded that “it all depends on the people” because the prohibition was imposed by force in 1989.
The sector for roads and bridges received the largest allotment of Rs 56.80 crore, while the sector for agriculture and related industries received Rs 54.26 crore.
The state is experiencing an “encouraging trend of gradual increase in the revenues in areas like state GST,” which has increased from Rs 788.37 crore during the pre-pandemic year 2019–20 to Rs 1,092.21 crore in 2021–22, said Rio, who holds the finance ministry.
According to the most recent information provided by the department, revenue from the coal sector has also increased, rising from Rs 53 lakh in 2019–20 to Rs 200 crore in 2021–22. During the current fiscal year, it has already reached Rs 5 crore, and by the end of the 2022–23 fiscal year, it is anticipated to cross Rs 8 crore.
The state’s revenues still only make up 12.36% of the overall income receipts, despite these positive patterns. “This scarcely covers our wage expenses for the next two and a half months. We have a limited revenue base, which is primarily to blame,” he said.
Rio added that the Revenue Deficit Grant (RDG) decrease of Rs 910 crore over the five-year term from 2020–21 to 2025–26, as proposed by the 15th Finance Commission, will have a negative effect on the state.
According to the CM, it is now essential for the state to examine all possible sources of income production, streamline the collection process, and close all loopholes.
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