NEW DELHI: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar wrote a letter to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday, in a reply to his letter with respect to the monetary package for Bihar.
After thanking Jaitley for his concern for Bihar, Nitish Kumar added, “I would also like to convey my disappointment at the manner in which pertinent issues concerning the development of the State and its people have been summarily disposed-off by the Central Government. I had met you and the Prime Minister, a couple of times to articulate my concerns and requested for a positive intervention but it has been of no avail.”
Kumar has at length discussed about the 14th Finance Commission’s (FC) recommendations for Bihar and has also shown dissatisfaction for the same.
“A detailed analysis of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission and the Central Budget 2015-16 reveals that while the funds being transferred from the pool of Central Taxes to the States have been increased but there has been a substantial reduction in the budgetary support provided by Government of India to the States for implementation of State plan schemes,” read the letter.
Nitish Kumar gave a detailed explanation of the dissatisfying monetary allocation for the state.
“The Central Government in the 2014-15 Budget, had transferred to States a sum of Rs. 3,82,215 crore as share of Central Taxes. In 2015-16 now the Central Government is transferring Rs. 5,23,958 crore, which is an increase of Rs. 1,41,743 crore over the last year's transfer. On the other hand the Central Government in 2014-15 had given a budgetary assistance of Rs. 3,38,408 crore for state schemes. Now in 2015-16 Budget, this assistance is slated at Rs. 2,04,784 crore, which constitutes a reduction of Rs. 1,33,624 crore. You will also agree that if this reduction is adjusted against the increase in share of Central Taxes, the overall increase is paltry,” added Kumar.
The current chief minister of Bihar lashed out at the Prime Minister’s package for the state.
“Now coming to the much touted Prime Minister's package for Bihar 2015... A fortnight ago, amidst much rhetoric and fanfare the so-called special package worth Rs. 1.25 lakh crore was announced. However, a closer look reveals that against the much hyped claim of Rs. 1.25 lakh crore, at least Rs. 1.08 lakh crore, i.e. 87% of the projects is nothing but a mere repackaging of old schemes, appropriation of pre-approved allocations for old schemes and continued contributions to ongoing schemes which were announced by various ministries at different points of time in the past,” said Nitish Kumar.
“Further, few new items, totalling to about Rs. 6000 crore, are a part of the package for which there is not even a shred of evidence of planning or work on ground. Thus, in totality, at the very best, the so called Rs. 1.25 lakh crore package will not provide anything more than Rs. 10368 crore as additional or incremental resource to Bihar. This, Rs. 10368 crore, too in the absence of a defined timeline or disbursement modalities would hardly mean anything to the state,” he added further.
Kumar asked a few questions about the package in his letter and answered them too, highlighting issues regarding the PM’s package. Some of these questions and their answers were,
“What is the actual size of the package?”
The answer to which was “A large chunk of this package up to the tune of Rs. 1.08 lakh crore of the Rs. 1.25 lakh crore is coming out of the funds already promised to the state of Bihar for on-going and pre-approved development endeavours and schemes. Same figures are now being passed off as new fund or investment.”
Another question was, “What is the exact contribution of the Government of India vis-à-vis other stakeholders?”
“In this package Rs. 10,000 crore has been allocated to the Sutluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) thermal power plant in Buxar. This constitutes almost 62% of the funds earmarked under the power sector. SJVN, a Public Sector Undertaking has not released an investment proposal against this project till date and it is not clear which all stakeholders it will involve ... Moreover for completion of schemes sanctioned under the 12th Five year Plan, the State is spending an additional sum of Rs. 1077 crore from its own coffers. The package while taking the credit is silent on these additional burdens on the State,” was the answer to this.
The third question was about the time period within which the benefits of this package would be accrued.
The reply to this was another series of questions, but he gave finality by saying, “In your letter you do mention that it will be implemented in phased manner, but without exact timelines the package appears to be a post dated cheque with no certainty of encashment.”
In the end, Kumar reiterated the special needs and concerns of the State.
“The much used dictum of ‘Cooperative Federalism’ has not only been undermined but also unduly compromised. This has violated the trust of people of Bihar... If the Central Government really wants Bihar to overcome its social, economic and infrastructural backwardness they should affirmatively decide on our demand for Special Category Status and supplement the formula based transfer by additional grants-in-aid and genuine special assistance on an assured basis and in a fair manner,” ended Kumar.