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$20m ADB loan for Assam

Guwahati, Oct. 19: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will release $20 million as the third instalment of a $100 million loan for Assam, satisfied with the government’s performance on fiscal reforms.

The ADB had approved a loan of $100 million in September 2008 for the second subprogram of the Assam governance and public resource management sector development programme.

This second subprogram builds on the achievement of the first subprogram, which was implemented in 2005-2007.

A sum of $40 million was released earlier and the now the third tranche will be released.

The primary objective of the Assam governance and public resource management programme is to improve the fiscal situation in the state and promote infrastructure development.

A source said Dispur was planning to hold a forum by the end of this year to share its reform achievements with stakeholders and to elaborate on remaining challenges.

The bank said the state has made considerable progress in revenue administration, expenditure management, debt management, and public sector enterprise closure towards fulfilling the third tranche release conditions.

It said the programme has turned out to be one of the most successful public resource management ones in the country and its success has motivated other northeastern states like Mizoram and Meghalaya to embark on similar reform programmes.

A $100 million loan will be cleared for Meghalaya by next month by the ADB.

Assam is the largest state among the seven states of the Northeast, representing almost 70 per cent of the gross state domestic product of the region.

Since Assam is a gateway to this region, the impact of development here can spread to neighbouring states, the bank said.

The ADB said the government has shown a resolve to curtail expenditure and prioritise on allocating resources for maintaining public assets based on updated norms.

Among the many achievements of the Assam government under the bank-funded fiscal reforms, it now has a fully functional tax information management system, computerised registration of properties (land and buildings) in 21 districts except the districts under autonomous councils.

Computerised registration of properties will help the government reduce stamp duty and registration fee losses caused by under-valuation of properties.

Under a third tranche condition of the second subprogram, the government is required to make functional at least one inter-state composite check post. The Srirampur composite check post in the Kokrajhar on the Assam-Bengal border meets this condition and has been operational since February.

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