Sense and sensibility for soon-to-be-born twin states
By Gautam Pingle
Published: 11th Aug 2013 11:39:03 AM
With the final phase of demerger of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh imminent, the emotional element must now be replaced by cold and hard thinking of the opportunities that such a reorganisation offers to both successor states—Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and Andhra regions) and Telangana.
Both states have a reasonable fiscal position. The two regions will constitute medium-sized states and are not ‘small’ by any criteria. It is reported that in 2012-13, the state’s tax revenues stood at Rs 69,146 crore. Allocating Headquarters tax revenues to the two successor states by their population proportions, Telangana revenues will be Rs 25,767 crore and Seemandhra’s Rs 43,379 crore.
Fiscal consolidation may be necessary for both successor states in order to fund the transition and further development. The allocation of loans secured by the composite state will also impinge on the fiscal situation for each successor state as it is already doing now for AP. A cold hard look needs to be taken at projects and schemes introduced by the AP government which cost the exchequer heavily and diverted funds from basic development and productive capital formation. This situation for both successor states must lead to a drive for lean and efficient government. The Legislative Council is one white elephant that can be abolished as well as the number of cabinet ministers, special chief secretaries and DIGs which can be diminished.
For example, of the 400-odd IAS officers in the AP cadre, Telangana can manage with about 50-70. More IAS officers means more expenditure and more confusion and conflict among them and delayed action. Similarly, of the 210 IPS AP cadre officers, Telangana can do with less than 75.
Decentralising government to the district level with ministers stationed in the district headquarters with all powers over the district administration almost like the chief minister has over the state administration would improve governance. The accessibility to the government would increase for the common citizen and both IAS and other officers would be stationed at this level.
Sensible, fair, rational and economic solutions are available for both successor governments. For the good of the people of the two states, let us hope that better sense will prevail.
The Sunday Standard