Finance ministers of 5 Opposition states meet in Amravati to discuss sharing of funds
A month after Kerala hosted a meeting of finance ministers of southern states, finance minister of five non-BJP ruled states are meeting in Andhra Pradesh’s capital Amravati on Monday to discuss the impact of terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission on the states.
Though it was expected that 11 states would take part in the conclave, the agenda has listed the confirmed participation of Delhi, Puducherry, West Bengal, Kerala and Punjab, apart from host state Andhra Pradesh.
Besides finance ministers, finance secretaries, and economists would also take part in the one-day workshop, an official statement from Andhra Pradesh finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said on Sunday.
He said the meeting would discuss the concerns on Terms of Reference (ToR) and recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission and adopt a resolution against those which will be sent to President of India.
Ramakrishnudu questioned if the states had to kneel down before the Centre for funds which they rightfully deserved.
“As against the federal spirit, the Centre is suppressing the progressive states that are maintaining fiscal discipline. The centre is saying it will incentivise the states implementing the central schemes effectively but it is attempting to deprive states of their funds. This will hurt the states’ own welfare schemes,” he said.
He pointed out that Andhra Pradesh alone would lose Rs 8,000 crores per annum because of the 15th Finance Commission’s recommendation to use 2011 census for devolution of funds. Similarly, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, Odisha, Punjab, West Bengal, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram would suffer badly, he said.
He said apart from the controversy about the use of the 2011 population instead of 1971, which may result in smaller shares from the common pool of revenues for some states, the terms of reference were heavily loaded in favour of the Union government.
The terms of reference given to the 15th Finance Commission recommends using the population from 2011 census. However, it does not specify the weightage to be given to the population. In 14th Finance Commission, 2011 population was given 10% weight whereas 1971 population was given 17.5%.
Last month, Kerala hosted a similar meeting which was attended by finance ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka and the Union territory of Puducherry who strongly opposed the terms of reference for the 15th Finance Commission for the devolution of funds to states.
Tamil Nadu and Telangana did not participate in that meeting.
Ramakrishnudu had then said that the Centre arbitrarily decided the terms of reference for the new policy, without consulting state governments.