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Bhaichung’s income promise

HSP offers Rs 18000 annually to poor

By Rajeev Ravidas in Gangtok

  • Published 27.03.19, 3:12 AM
  • Updated 27.03.19, 3:12 AM
Bhaichung Bhutia
Bhaichung Bhutia The Telegraph picture

The Hamro Sikkim Party has sought to steal the thunder from the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front by announcing that Rs 18,000 will be given to every poor citizen per annum if it comes to power in the state.

HSP working president Bhaichung Bhutia announced the universal basic income (UBI) scheme, which would be called Sikkimey Samman Yojna (SSY), at a press conference here on Tuesday.

“The scheme will be introduced within 25 days of government formation. The entitlement per person will be Rs18,000 per annum or Rs1,500 per month. For a family of five, the amount will be Rs 90,000 annually or Rs 7,500 per month,” he said.

The SDF had in the past said it was working on the UBI scheme and it would feature in the party’s election manifesto, which was yet to be released.

Speaking hours before the HSP made the announcement, chief minister Pawan Chamling had again referred to the scheme that his government planned to introduce and said it was to ensure the basic minimum need of the people. “We will introduce the scheme in the next government and have named it ‘Arthik Suraksha’ (financial security scheme),” he added.

While the features of the SDF’s version of the scheme will be known only after the release of its manifesto, the HSP spelled out its basic outline. “Payments under the SSY shall commence within 90 days of its launch, which will be preceded by existing database validation and creation of new database. Money shall be transferred to bank accounts on first day of every month,” said Bhutia, adding the amount shall be progressively increased based on cost of living index.

The HSP said the funds would be provided through budgetary allocation. “Based on the 2019 population of Sikkim, which is projected at 652,862, and factoring in the exclusions, the cost of the scheme is likely to be Rs 900 crore per annum. The cost is 4.04 per cent of the Rs. 22,247 crore gross state domestic product for 2017-18 and 12.76 per cent of the Rs.7051 core plan budget of Sikkim for 2018-19,” the party said.

The scheme will cover even the lowly paid permanent and temporary government employees, but exclude the high salaried classes. “The finer details of the SSY shall be drafted in consultation with some of the most renowned economists of the world, taking care of every aspect of its implementation. The SSY is neither a gift nor an electoral sop or largesse, it is simply redistribution of Sikkim’s wealth for the welfare of all Sikkimese,” said Bina Basnet, the HSP president.