Alleging that key health and education sectors have suffered in West Bengal under the Trinamool Congress government, the BJP on Thursday claimed that the state budget proposals for 2023-24 do not address long term development issues.
BJP MLA and economist Ashok Lahiri, speaking during discussion on the state budget proposals presented in the assembly on Wednesday, said that the state having been in the forefront in MGNREGA scheme participation is not a good reflection of Bengal's job market. He questioned why should people want a day's job for Rs 213 if there is better work for them at better wages.
The Balurghat MLA said that the budget proposals do not address long term development issues of the state. The health and education sectors have suffered under the TMC government, Lahiri alleged. He said that while as per WHO guidelines, one doctor should be there for every 1,000 people, in West Bengal the figure is more than 1,300 people per doctor.
The cost of medical treatment is higher in West Bengal, he claimed, adding that everyday patients from the state were travelling to Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai for treatment. Stating that he had studied in a state-run educational institution in Kolkata, Lahiri, a former chief economic advisor to the Union government, said that people are not keen on getting their wards admitted to government schools nowadays in Bengal. He claimed that allegations of wrongdoings in teacher appointment have had a negative impact on the school education in state-sponsored and aided schools.
Speaking in support of the budget proposals, TMC MLA Debabrata Majumdar said that unemployment rate in West Bengal is lower than in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh. He claimed that enrolment rate for primary education in the TMC-ruled state is higher than in many BJP-ruled states in the country.
Majumdar, TMC MLA from Jadavpur, claimed that the state has lost on revenue from petrol/diesel sales as the Centre has reduced basic excise duty on petrol/diesel, which it shares with states and imposed cess to increase its own earnings. Comparing the budget proposals with fast food, BJP MLA Shankar Ghosh, said that it looks attractive but is not healthy or productive.
Claiming that north Bengal has been neglected in the budget proposals presented by Chandrima Bhattacharya, the minister of state (Independent charge) for Finance, the Siliguri MLA said that tourism, one of the mainstays of the Dooars and hill regions of the state, has got a meagre increase in allocation from Rs 467 crore in 2022-23 to Rs 491 crore for 2023-24. Saptarshi Banerjee, TMC MLA from Basirhat Dakshin constituency, alleged that the Centre has reduced funding for the state under the MNREGA scheme, thus affecting rural job guarantee in Bengal.