Sikkim: Chief Minister P.S. Golay on Tuesday said the SKM government is trying to recover and reconstruct Sikkim from a protracted period of “mal-governance” of Pawan Chamling government that injected “anarchy and instability everywhere”.
He presented the State Budget 2022-23 with a total expenditure of Rs. 10,116.11 crore with his address made on a comparative note on what the SKM government actually inherited in 2019 and what were the realities then.
This budget also gives indications about how deep the scars and damages were when we started treating and curing the ills, Golay said in his Budget speech while ripping apart the SDF government on every sector.
Sikkim CM Critical Of The Past SDF Government
In his opening State Budget 2022-23 remarks, the Chief Minister was critical of the past SDF government maintaining that every aspect of public life was in disarray leaving the SKM government to inherit staggering debts.
“There was a dark cloud everywhere as the family oligopolies captured lands to contracts, business to appointments and natural resources to institutions, and more dubiously all the sensitive information and data of the government,” he said while presenting the Budget in the Assembly.
Chamling, the lone opposition MLA, was in the House listening to the Chief Minister and got reminded about his recent ‘power brokers’ comment.
“Sikkimese society had never witnessed such degree of personality cult and forced leadership. The invisible hands of these family oligopolies even reached villages, communities and places of worship, to holy forests, rivers and lakes of Sikkim. This finally gave birth to what the former Chief Minister, a few days back himself called, ‘hundreds of power brokers’ in his own political party.”
“Not even three years ago, the situation of Sikkim was characterized by all these visibly vicious phenomena. It was not even a protracted period of misgovernance, it was actually mal-governance that injected anarchy and instability everywhere”, said Golay.
The Chief Minister mentioned that the 2022-23 Budget is the first full-fledged budget of Sikkim since SKM formed the government midway in 2019 while 2020 and 2021 were acutely hit by the Covid pandemic.
He added that SKM government faced formidable tasks of rescue, recover, reconstruct, restore, robust, resilience and recognition of Sikkim.
“Our government has been trying to correct several lapses and irregularities. We have been making huge efforts to rebuild all these remnants of destruction. We are introducing norms and practices that are people-oriented and injecting newer systems that are people-friendly,” said the Chief Minister.
Covid exposed previous government
The Chief Minister maintained that the Covid pandemic exposed how the previous government, despite its 25 years of ruling the State and showing expenditure of hundreds of crores, had not even created basic facilities in the health systems in the State.
There were no oxygen plants, ICUs were scare and had several drawbacks, district hospitals did not have even basic equipment, testing and diagnosis were in bad shape and even the widely required dialysis facility did not exist and doctors and health staffs remained de-motivated, he said.
“We went to action immediately and effectively. Today we have adequate number of oxygen plants, ICU beds, testing and diagnosis facilities, medicines and critically more manpower support in hospitals in Gangtok.”
Golay informed the House that the State government is constructing a 300-bedded hospital at Namchi at Rs. 561.26 crore and a 300-bedded district hospital in Singtam at a cost of Rs. 552.19 crore. Similarly, a 100-bedded hospital district hospital is slated to be started in Soreng at an estimated cost of Rs. 236.11 crore, he said.
Golay pointed out that previously the only oxygen plant in Sikkim was in the hands of a private company. Today, we have adequate number of oxygen plants with sufficient capacity in all the major hospitals, he said.
Previous govt believed in 30% performance and 70% publicity
The Chief Minister, in his Budget speech, said the SKM government “inherited a highly distorted and misplaced education sector” in 2019 with low enrolment ratio and high school dropout rates.
“However, we have drastically improved all these indicators despite such serious pandemic related disruptions.
We are seriously working to change all these development laggards and I assure the Hon’ble Members of the House that by next few years we shall have very promising and stabilized performance data in national and other studies in all aspects.
The previous government seemed to have firmly believed in 30 per cent performance and 70 per cent publicity where as we believe in 100 per cent work. Publicity will be spontaneously done if the work is good,” said the Chief Minister.
Golay informed the House that 18 acres of land has been allocated for Khangchendzonga State University at Temi-Tarku and reminded that this State University was “so very casually created by the previous government and hosted at Nar Bahadur Bhandari Government College” in Gangtok.
“How can a college host a university? It remained in a languished state for long. It was a farcical act of be-fooling the youth population of Sikkim on eve of election.”
The Chief Minister also slammed the past SDF government on Gyalshing Degree College infrastructure and added that the SKM government allocated adequate funds, planned the entire infrastructures and other requirements.
He mentioned the SKM government had extended wholehearted support to Sikkim University and National Institute of Technology, both of which had “badly suffered from inimical and indifferent attitude of the previous government”.
“As soon as our government took charge of the State’s governance, we started supporting and working with both these prestigious national institutions.
The NIT has been given 100 acres of land at Khamdong in East Sikkim and will soon start the construction and shifting process. Sikkim University has now entered into the second phase of construction and the courses and programmes which do not require laboratory facilities will shift to Yangang Campus in the course of few months”.
The Chief Minister informed that all the schools now have permanent and qualified principals, headmistresses and headmasters. Our government has given back the rights and privileges and functional autonomy to all these schools, he said.
Within next month, all the vacancies of teachers including PGT, GT, PRT, PET and language teachers will be fulfilled in all the schools of Sikkim, he added.
Golay shared that the government has planned start computer education from fifth standard in all the government schools.
He mentioned about the policy introduced by the State government wherein any teacher who has completed eight years as adhoc teacher will be automatically made permanent.
“This is likely to benefit more than 700 teachers as soon as we implement this policy in the next couple of months. We have also done away with the term ‘adhoc’, often derogatorily used, and replaced with a dignified term ‘probationary’,” he said.
The Chief Minister said the State government, in this fiscal year, would be setting up a high-level climate change and glaciology commission consisting of experts on glaciology and related climate change impact.
We will also provide fellowships to our young scientists (who have already obtained Ph.D. degree in social science and natural science) to study the impact of climate change on critical areas like rivers and waters, food and agriculture, energy security, disasters and society and culture, he said.
Sikkim Skill Exchange Bank (SSEB)
The Chief Minister informed the House that the government will now set up Sikkim Skill Exchange Bank (SSEB) mainly to both map all the skills available in the State and deploy them wherever they are needed.
The proposed SSEB will be a central pool of skills providing the entire details of all the available skills in the State on the basis of their registration in the SSEB. The SSEB will pool the demand and supply systematically in a common pool to maximize their utility.
Discussions and voting on the Budget would be done on March 31.
BUDGET 2022-23 TAKEAWAYS
The Sikkim government has set aside Rs. 1 crore in this fiscal year for 36 students of Sikkim who had returned from war-torn Ukraine.
With our students back in Sikkim, our government is striving to provide secure and smooth facilitation to complete their studies in time and are devising ways forward to this effect. I would, therefore, like to set aside a sum of Rs. 1 crore for this purpose in this fiscal year.
Sikkim Global Investment Confluence & Visit Sikkim 2022
The State government would be organising Sikkim Global Investment Confluence and Visit Sikkim 2022 during the months of October-November, wherein some of the most widely known green investors will be invited and introduced to Sikkim as an abode of green investments.
This will be attended by investors from India and abroad including Japan and Korea and South-East Asian countries, Europe and North America.
A group of young entrepreneurs from Sikkim will be taken for the investment partnership exploratory tour to South-East Asian countries focusing on green sectors and sub-sectors.
No extension in services
As promised, our government has totally stopped giving any extension in services to senior officials, middle-ranking and gazetted officers since April 2020. Only in exceptional humanitarian grounds some extension on services will be considered for class IV staff members.
Promotion of State Languages
We are now bringing a legislation with a view to protect and promote the State-based indigenous and endangered languages. Sikkim University since its very inception has introduced courses on Bhutia, Lepcha and Limbu languages up to Ph.D. level.
Our government plans to follow the same pathways for other indigenous and endangered languages including that of Rai, Gurung, Tamang, Newar, Mangar, Bhujel, Sherpa and Mukhia.
Foreign Workers Training and Recruitment Institute
This institute will be set up in coordination and cooperation of various foreign embassies in India and other international job recruitment agencies.
Sikkimese people and the youths in particular, will be given training on various professional areas. It will be managed by professionals, legal, financial and foreign employment experts.