The Assam government has proposed to link geriatric care to the pay of its employees from the 2017-18 fiscal to ensure that they look after their parents.
Presenting a Rs 2,349.79 crore deficit budget on Tuesday, finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said every government employee must take care of his or her parents.
If they don’t, the government will deduct a part of the employee’s salary and give it to the neglected parents for their sustenance, Sarma told the assembly
“Care for elderly parents is the responsibility of every ward. If a government employee son cannot do it for his parents, it becomes the duty of the government to do so from his salary,” he said.
The government also decided to provide each of about 5 lakh employees two sets of khadi and handloom dresses annually.
Terming the budget as historic, Sarma said it was in keeping with the vision document of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and trust people reposed in the government.
Giving thrust to ‘swadeshi values’, the finance minister proposed to annually reimburse each employee up to Rs 1,000 spent on two sets of khadi or handloom apparel.
“This proposal is to popularise khadi and handloom wear among the employees as well as to help promote khadi and handloom industries in Assam,” Sarma said.
The budget has also targeted tea plantation workers, whose votes helped BJP and its ally Asom Gana Parishad win key assembly seats in central and eastern Assam in 2016.
Sarma said Rs 287 crore has been allocated in the budget for paying Rs 5,000 to each of 6.5 lakh tea plantation workers who opened bank accounts. A separate allocation has also been made to transfer Rs 12,000 in the account of each pregnant plantation worker.
Besides, a fleet of 40 mobile medical units would be provided across some 850 tea estates to meet healthcare needs of the plantation workers.
These proposals are expected to assuage tea garden workers who had faced hardships after demonetization of high-value banknotes in November last year.
Plantation workers, their dependents and ‘ex-tea tribes’ (Adivasi communities no longer associated with the tea industry) comprise about 18% of Assam’s voters and are a deciding factor in at least 30 of the state’s 126 assembly seats.
Other proposals in the budget include setting up of a wildlife court in Kaziranga National Park, primary to try cases of rhino poaching and entertainment tax rebate of 50% for multiplexes that guarantee screening of regional films for a substantial period of time.
The tax rebate proposal came less than a fortnight after filmmaker Himangshu Prasad Das had allegedly sought the help of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent to stop his Assamese film — Shakira Aahibo Bokultolor Bihuloi — from being pushed out of movie theatres to accommodate Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees and Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil last month.