‘Smart’ presentation of budget creates buzz

Government, industry agog over first-of-its-kind experiment

  • Published 7.02.19, 3:36 PM
  • Updated 7.02.19, 3:36 PM
  • a min read
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R.S. Joshi The Telegraph picture

Dispur has been trying to change the way the state budget is “presented and perceived” so that it can turn into an annual event the public eagerly looks forward to, a section of government and industry insiders said.

There was a buzz around the budget in the run-up to D-Day, something usually associated with the Union budget, since Himanta Biswa Sarma took over as the finance minister (FM), they said, referring to heightened activities on social media.

They cited the example of how the finance department, in a communiqué on Monday, said its use of social media, seeking people’s participation and inputs for the 2019-20 budget, was “one of the first-of-its-kind experiment in the country”.

Another communiqué on Tuesday said the budget could be accessed on a specially designed app, Assam Budget, available on Google store and that updates would also be available live on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

On Wednesday, pictures of a beaming Sarma dressed in traditional dhoti-kurta and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, displaying the budget before its presentation, were released on social media, adding to the buzz.

R.S. Joshi, former chairman of the Federation of Industry and Commerce of Northeastern Region (Finer) praised the government’s efforts to engage the public in “preparation and presentation of the budget and how it is perceived”.

“Smart move by the FM to make the state Budget 2019 look like presenting the Union Budget, be it the smart walk of CM & FM on their way to power corridors of Assembly; smartly dressed; smart photo session; smart presentation and of course smart in contents, smartly pleasing all sections of society”, Joshi wrote in a text message to The Telegraph when asked for his reaction.

Sources in the finance department said consultations with all the departments and agencies on the budget was “much deeper” this time.

“Then there was an attempt to reach out to the public on social media to gather feedback before giving a final shape to the budget. All this created a buzz, unlike in previous years, and we hope these efforts will change the way people perceive the state budget,” a source said.