Sikkim Legislative Assembly passes general budget of Rs. 10,116.11 crore for the financial year 2022-23

Gangtok, 31 March (IPR): The Sikkim Legislative Assembly passed the General Budget of Rs. 10,116.11 crore for the financial year 2022-23 on the third day of the Sixth Session of the Tenth Assembly (Budget Session 2022-23) of the SLA today.

During the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s address and general discussion on Budget 2022-23, both of which were presented in the House on the second day of the Budget Session on 29th March 2022, several questions were raised by the various MLAs in the House.

In reply to concerns put forth by MLAs, D.R.Thapa and D.T. Lepcha, with regard to the unprecedented economic impacts faced by the tourism stakeholders owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Minister, also the Leader of the House, Prem Singh Tamang, informed that the State government has undertaken major programmes for this financial year. The State government will organize Sikkim-Global Investment Confluence and Visit Sikkim-2022 as an abode of green investments in the State. Likewise, the State government has already identified the High-Value Tourism Corridor and is working to implement the projects. Under the Mega Home Stay Project, 1000 traditionally designed, homestays will be built by the Government.

With the query set forth by MLA D.R. Thapa for the conservation budget on traffic, the Chief Minister informed the House that the State government has already submitted a proposal for the rope-way project in PPP mode with the Centre. Also, all the possible alternate routes that are being proposed for decongesting the roads in the capital have been brought into effect to mitigate the traffic problem troubling the State capital.

Regarding the steps taken by the State Government to provide seats to the Limboo Tamang communities in the SLA, the Chief Minister informed the House that the State government’s firm resolve to get the LT seats has been indicated through its constant negotiations with the highest authorities in the Centre.  

Replying to the query put forth by MLA Sonam Venchungpa, the Chief Minister informed the House that the State government is positively considering all efforts to make it convenient for the 17th Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim. A sum of 1 crore rupees has been allocated in the budget this year for it. The State Government has left no stones unturned in pursuing the matter. 

Replying to the queries raised by MLA, G.T. Dhungel, Chief Minister and Leader of the House, P.S. Tamang, gave an in-depth report on the hydropower sectors in the State, mainly pertaining to the Teesta Urja Limited (Teesta III Hydropower Project) and the Amalgamated Transpower India Ltd. (ATPIL). He said that the State government has constantly been making efforts to reduce the debt burden.

In reply to concerns raised by Shri D.R. Thapa in the context of the recent teacher appointment, the Chief Minister said that enquiries are underway to robustly assess the issue. He further assured that the State government will stand by its pledge of protecting and conserving the sanctity of Article 371(F) of the Constitution, which provides special status to Sikkim.

Replying to the query raised by MLA Karma Sonam Lepcha, the Chief Minister stated that Rabindranath Tagore Park will be constructed at Rinchenpong.

Regarding the queries laid by MLA D.T. Lepcha for the live telecast of the Legislative proceedings, the Chief Minister said that the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Assembly Chair. Addressing D.T. Lepcha’s concerns over employment issues, the Chief Minister stated that the State government will soon start Foreign Workers Training and Recruitment Institute (FWTRI) mainly to provide employment opportunities to the Sikkimese people in foreign countries. He also informed that the Institute will be set up in coordination and cooperation with various Foreign Embassies in India and other international job recruitment agencies.

Replying to D.T. Lepcha’s query on the condition of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation(NHIDCL) projects in the State, the Chief Minister said that NHIDCL falls under the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India and added that its development, maintenance and management is only entrusted to the GoI. Additionally, the status of the fair-weather roads in the State will also be followed up by the State government for consideration in future.

Similarly, the Chief Minister, in his reply to MLA Sunita Gajmer over the query on the status of medical seats reserved for Sikkimese students, informed that the National Medical Commission (NMC) has approved 50 free seats for the local students at Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences (SMIMS) sponsored by the State Government. The seats will be free of cost for those who aspire to be a doctor and those who qualify for the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET).

Regarding the matter put forward by MLA Pintso Namgyal Lepcha in the context of the pending allotment order under the Chief Minister Rural Housing Scheme (CMRHM), the Chief Minister said that the matter will be addressed soon.

In his concluding note, the Chief Minister thanked the Members of the House for their active participation in the proceeding and further assured that the State government will ensure the channelling of all the Central and State benefits to the beneficiaries across the State.

During the Financial Business, Separate Demands for Grants were also presented for discussion and voting under the charge of:

(i)  Minister, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Veterinary Services, Horticulture, Information & Public Relations and Printing & Stationery Departments

(ii) Minister, Tourism & Civil Aviation and Commerce & Industries Departments

(iii)  Minister, Education, Law, Parliamentary Affairs, Land Revenue & Disaster Management and Sports & Youth Affairs Departments

(iv)  Minister, Urban Development and Food & Civil Supplies Departments

(v) Minister, Rural Development, Cooperation and Ecclesiastical Departments

(vi)  Minister, Health and Family Welfare, Social Welfare & Women and Child Development Departments

(vii) Minister, Sikkim Public Works (Buildings & Housing) and Transport Departments

(viii)  Minister, Forest and Environment, Mines & Geology and Science & Technology Departments.

(ix) Hon’ble Minister, Sikkim Public Works (Roads & Bridges) and Culture Departments.

(x) Minister, Public Health Engineering and Water Resources Departments

(xi) Minister, Power and Labour Departments

(xii) Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-charge of Home, Finance, Development Planning & North East Council Affairs, Excise and other Departments not specifically allotted to any other Ministers

Thereafter, Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, also Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department, introduced the Sikkim Appropriation Bill, 2022 (Bill No. 07 of 2022) for Annual General Budget 2022-23 which was passed by the House. The House thereby passed the Annual General Budget 2022-23.

Speaker L.B. Das adjourned the House for the day till 10:50 am of 1st April, 2022.

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