Abdul Bari to confront Jaitley over Bihar package

  • Anirban Guha Roy, Hindustan Times, Patna
  • Updated: Feb 06, 2016 18:05 IST

Bihar government will strongly raise the issue of non-release of allocations under the special package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Bihar assembly polls at a meeting called by Union finance minister for pre-budget consultations in New Delhi on Saturday.

Bihar has been pursuing release of funds earmarked under the special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore with the Centre for the last two months, after the Grand Alliance government came to power in November.

Most of the schemes and projects covered under the package were in energy, roads, education, railways and health sector — all key sectors where Bihar compares poorly with developed states.

The PM had said the package was the biggest economic assistance for state’s rapid progress even as the RJD-JD(U) combine had dubbed it as ‘repackaging’ of old schemes given to Bihar during the UPA-II government.

“We have been putting pressure on the Centre to release funds under the special package but nothing has come about. We will raise it before the Union finance minister,” Abdul Bari Siddiqui, state’s finance minister, told HT on Friday.

Siddiqui along with finance ministers of other states would attend the meeting to be chaired by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.

The other issues to be raised at the meeting include non-allocation of pending funds under the backward region grant fund (BRGF) under the 12th five-year Plan to Bihar, especially for the 2015-16 fiscal.

Sources said the state had received allocations worth Rs 3,717 crore so far even as a large number of schemes under the BRGF have been affected due to non-release of funds.

The finance minister is also likely to raise the issue of Rs 1,500 crore pending under the Rashtriya Sama Vikas Yojana, which was the first edition of special monetary assistance given to states like Bihar for economic progress. There is also the issue of monetary losses suffered by the state in terms of declining prices of petroleum products as major tax flow under fuel goes to the central kitty, sources said.

The meeting assumes significance as the central government in the last few months has insisted on a consensus of all states in dealing with tricky financial issues, including GST (goods and services tax), a new uniform taxation system proposed to ensure transparency in taxation and smoothen inter-state flow of goods.

The GST bill is still pending passage in the lower house as many non-BJP ruled states and the Congress in opposition have demanded amendments to the proposed law.

Sources said the state government was also peeved at slashing of share in centrally sponsored projects, which it believed, had put additional load of Rs 4,000 crore on the state kitty. In addition, the proposed phase-wise ban on liquor from April 1 also poses a major challenge for the finance department to mop up resources to fund state’s own schemes.

“The slashing of central share in schemes is not a prudent step as it puts additional burden on poor states like Bihar. We will raise it at the meeting and also urge the finance minister to ensure release of central funds under ongoing schemes in a timely manner,” Siddiqui said.

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