Badal calls for genuine federal structure at NZC meeting
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today called for setting up a "genuinely federal structure" in the country with more financial and political powers to the states, the need for which has been felt across a general spectrum of political opinion.chandigarh Updated: Jul 13, 2012 21:56 IST
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday called for setting up a "genuinely federal structure" in the country with more financial and political powers to the states, the need for which has been felt across a general spectrum of political opinion.
Addressing the 26th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council, the chief minister, who is also the vice chairman of the council, said there was a wide consensus across party lines that the state governments need to be given much greater operational freedom in choosing and financing development priorities of their own people.
Showing concern over the violation of federal spirit by the Centre, Badal said the tendency of the Central government has been to usurp, through open and clandestine ways, the powers and authority of the states already ensured by the Constitution.
In certain cases, the violation of the Constitution by the Union government has been nothing short of 'flagrant', with the Centre willfully legislating on issues that fall in the States purview, he lamented.
The CM pointed out that the most dangerous exhibition of this tendency was seen in how the Centre had been quietly shifting subjects from the State List to the Concurrent List and from the Concurrent to the Union List. Such violations of the federal principle would not only further weaken the states but would also create unnecessary complications, hampering smooth relations between the Centre and the States, he alleged.
Pleading to rewrite the formula for devolution of Central funds, Badal said the States needed more funds for their primary developmental needs.
He said, "We have demanded that the States should be given at least 50 per cent share in taxes collected from the States. The allocation of funds to the States should in fact be made growth dependent in order to encourage them to perform better."
The CM pressed upon the Centre for strengthening federalism by increasing allocation of Central funds to States from the present 32 per cent to 50 per cent, along with change in the devolution criteria so that it was not detrimental to the interests of the relatively more developed States.
Emphasising the need to restructure the Inter-State Council (ISC), Badal said it was the need of the hour in the true spirit of federalism for strengthening the states and ultimately the Union of Indian.
He suggested that the Secretariat of the ISC should be attached to the Secretariat of the Rajya Sabha rather than being a department of Government of India (GoI). All initiatives on the Concurrent List may first be discussed in the ISC and approved by the 2/3rd majority before given any legislative shape, he observed.
In case, the ISC was restructured into a constitutional and strong body, as suggested, the existence and relevance of the
Zonal Councils could also be reviewed by the Council and brought into its fold by amending the States Reorganzation Act, 1956.
Dwelling on the huge financial and economic loss suffered by the state due to flight of industry from Punjab in the wake of fiscal concessions granted to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand by the GoI, Badal said they were not against granting these concessions to other states but at the same time Punjab must be duly compensated by setting up Special Economic Zones for agro-processing industry in the state. This initiative would not only boost agriculture economy but would also provide a level playing field.