Bihar’s present, past FMs spar over central funds

Published on Sep 12, 2022 06:31 PM IST

Sushil Modi, who is a Rajya Sabha member, said that “teachers are the responsibility of the state government as education is in the concurrent list and state governments take decisions about recruitment, service conditions of the teachers and central government has no role to play in this matter.

Former Bihar finance minister Sushil Kumar Modi. (ANI)
Former Bihar finance minister Sushil Kumar Modi. (ANI)

PATNA: Bihar’s finance minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary and former finance minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Sunday got into in a verbal duel blaming each other for misinterpreting facts on the status of the Centre’s contribution to the state.

“The fact that the state had to use its own resources for payment of salaries to teachers, as the Centre’s share was not made available. The funds under the head are directly utilised for the transfer of payment in the accounts of teachers, which anyone can verify. Modi tried to link it with other schemes,” Choudhary said.

Sushil Modi, who is a Rajya Sabha member, said that “teachers are the responsibility of the state government as education is in the concurrent list and state governments take decisions about recruitment, service conditions of the teachers and central government has no role to play in this matter. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) provides additional support to states for improving the quality of education. However, it does not replace the responsibility of the state government to make enough provisions in their budget for education which also includes payment of teachers’ salary,” the finance minister said.

Choudhary said that as far as other schemes are concerned, Bihar has 37,91,883 approved pensioners under the national old age pension scheme and they are entitled to 400/month and 500/month on a 50:50 Centre-state sharing basis. “Will Modi ji clarify why the Centre has given its share for 29,96,472 persons only? In the current fiscal 2022-23, five months have elapsed but a single penny of the central share has been received against the provision of 1348.40 as Central share till August,” he said.

Choudhary said that even for the national widow pension scheme, there is a provision of 250 crore as the Central share, but not a single penny has been received. “Sushil Modi was himself the finance minister of the state for a long time, but he seems to more eager to revive his fortune at the cost of running down Bihar. He should strive in the interest of the state to ensure Bihar got its legitimate dues from the Centre,” he added.

Hitting back at the finance minister, Sushil Modi said that the statements of Choudhary were strange. “He says Central share did not arrive till August. Does it mean that the Centre behaved stepmotherly with its own NDA government? Till August 9, Bihar had NDA government. Choudhary should strive to fulfil the norms for centrally-sponsored schemes by removing the anomalies. Other states also avail it. The norms are the same for all states and all states have to fulfil them. Narendra Modi government believes in a uniform yardstick. If BJP-ruled states fail to fulfil laid down norms, they also suffer from delay,” he said.

Aware of the massive challenge to the state government on the fiscal front, especially to meet the high expectations of job creation, Choudhary, who also holds the portfolio of commercial taxes, said the department’s main focus would be to augment revenue generation.

With the GST compensation in view of Covid-induced stress stopping in the present financial year and the drop in GST collection in May, June, and July in the state, the minister, after a review of the commercial taxes department, said the department should strive to increase revenue collection in the current fiscal. The good news is that in August, Bihar witnessed growth in GST for the first time this fiscal, as per the latest statistics.

“In 2021-22 fiscal, the revenue collection of 35,884 crore also included the compensation due to Covid disruptions. With the compensation scheme now over, the department should make all possible efforts to attain the level of 2021-22, which is 35,884 crore. The commercial taxes department alone constitutes 78-25% of the total revenue generation of the state. It is the backbone for all development schemes,” Choudhary added.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arun Kumar is Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He has spent two-and-half decades covering Bihar, including politics, educational and social issues.

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