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NEW DELHI, Feb 6 (NEPS): Nagaland Minister for National Highways and Mechanical Engineering, Nuklutoshi has drawn the attention of Union Finance Minister saying that the Center had altered the funding pattern to the Nagaland State since 1990 and since then, they had been facing “acute resource constraints.”
Attending the Pre-Budget Meeting with Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister, here at Hotel Shangri-la, Ashoka Road on Saturday, the Nagaland Minister, who was attending on behalf of the Chief Minister of Nagaland, informed the Ministry that the State of Nagaland was perhaps the only State which was created out of a “political agreement.”
“The agreement provided special provisions with respect to governance and funding for the State,” he reminded and further explained that now the State had been facing acute resource constraints following Center’s altering of funding pattern to it. The Center’s altering the funding pattern to Nagaland since 1990 was not in accordance to the political agreement, he reminded.
Drawing further the attention of the Ministry, Nuklutoshi said the State of Nagaland, J&K, Arunachal Pradesh and some States of the Northeastern region should be treated more special than the other Special Category States.
The Nagaland Minister also said that without taking into consideration the Special Status of their State, the 13 Finance Commission had recommended normative funding to all the State restricting salary expenditure to 35% of the total revenue expenditure, net of Interest Payment and pension. “If we are to go on the basis of the 13th Finance Commission recommendations, we would have to terminate the services of about 45,000 Government employees, which was not possible,” he asserted.
Although the Government of India had created the special window of Special Central Assistance (untied) to cover the BCR Gap, the distribution of the fund was neither proportionate to the BCR Gap of the State nor sufficient, Nuklutoshi stated. Because of this, he explained, the Nagaland State, at the close 13th Finance Commission period, ended up with a huge deficit of Rs 1542 crore.
The Minister, however, disclosed that the 14th Finance Commission understood the problem faced by the State and “their recommendations are found to be more realistic as compared with the previous Finance Commissions.” “However, the backlog deficit created during the 13th Finance Commission period is so huge that even the award of the 14th Finance Commission is not sufficient to cover the pending deficit of the State,” he informed the Ministry. He further requested the Government of India to give a one-time grant to waive the deficit to enable the state to focus on developmental activities.
With regard to the distribution of Rs 20000 crore as Special Assistance, the Nagaland Minister expressed hope that the Center would allocate the fund that was made available during the current year under Demand No. 37 of the Union Budget to all the “deserving States” particularly for the North Eastern and Himalayan States on the need base.
Nuklutoshi also informed the Union Finance Minister that the 73rd Constitutional Amendment did not apply to the State of Nagaland, hence a “separate grant may be provided for development of the rural local bodies from the current year onwards.”
He also informed the Ministry that the Government of India had not released entire amount that was due as per the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission under State’s specific schemes. “As a result, the ongoing works could not be completed for which a one-time assistance may be provided,” he added.
He also said the projects that were approved during erstwhile Planning Commission under SPA Projects could not be completed due to discontinuance of the scheme. The Government of India may provide grant to complete the projects and to clear the liabilities, he said.
Expressing confidence that the Union Finance Ministry would consider and look into the issue raised, the Minister also thanked the Union Finance Minister for convening the meeting and stated that calling such important meeting only showed the genuine concern of the Union Government in promoting the spirit of co-operative federalism to which the NDA Government was committed.
Nuklutoshi attended the Pre-Budget meeting with Kikheto Sema, Finance Secretary, Nagaland.