BHUBANESWAR: The 15th Finance Commission on Tuesday maintained that though Odisha has a great future, it is truly an example of a State which is nowhere near reaching its true growth potential.The Commission, led by Nand Kishore Singh, met representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), urban local bodies, trade and industry bodies and political parties to discuss the financial situation and how to bring the state on path of more development.
The Commission felt it was ironic that with 72 per cent of India’s mineral resources, manufacturing sector in Odisha was still very moderate which has resulted in low job creation. “Some recent initiatives of the State Government have been good and effective, but deeper changes in the regulatory frame work, combined with improved infrastructure and logistics are needed to make the state truly competitive,” a member of the Commission maintained.
At the meeting, the Commission noted that Odisha was a shining example of women empowerment. Ten of the 16 representatives of PRIs and ULBs who met the Commission were women. The Commission members were unanimous in their view that all the three tiers of PRIs must get a part of the financial devolution. It was felt that enhancing revenue capabilities was essential to their viability.
The Commission expressed concern over the fact levying of property tax by the PRIs is still not allowed. It deserves priority along with other measures to make the PRIs and ULBs self-sufficient.Meanwhile, placing its demand before the Commission, the ruling BJD demanded revision of coal royalty and green tax. Head IT Wing and Spokesperson Amar Patnaik and Spokesperson Sasmit Patra placed the demands on behalf of the party. The BJD demanded a special fund for Women SHGs and their livelihood development and capacity building.
The party reiterated the demand for special category status for Odisha and increase in the devolution of funds to the states from 42 to 50 per cent. Besides, other demands included special fund for Agricultural Marketing Cooperatives, appropriate financial allocation and restoring of programmes like BRGF and KBK. A detailed memorandum in this regard was submitted by the party to the Commission.