BHUBANESWAR: The debate over slashing of Central assistance to Odisha continues with the State Government demanding a special package for implementation of development schemes for some of the most vulnerable and backward regions.
The issue was again raised by Finance Minister Pradip Amat at the pre-budget consultation meeting convened by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at New Delhi on February 6.
Though the Centre has discontinued Central assistance for eight centrally sponsored schemes (CSS), the State Government is worried over the implementation of particularly three schemes, special plan for KBK, Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) and Integrated Action Plan (IAP) in Left Wing Extremism-affected districts as these mostly cater to poor tribals in inaccessible areas.
Official sources maintained that the three schemes involve resource commitment of Rs 1226.51 crore including Rs 250 crore for special plan for KBK, Rs 436.51 crore for BRGF and Rs 540 crore for IAP. After persistent demand from the State Government, the Centre had released Rs 132 crore for completion of projects taken up under the special plan for KBK under temporary measure.
However, without release of funds for these schemes, the State Government will find it difficult to implement these in 2016-17. The Centre may either restore provision for these schemes or provide a special package to the State for continuance of these programmes through specific provision of funds in the Union Budget 2016-17, Amat said.
Though the Centre maintains that the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) has increased share of States in Central taxes from 32 to 42 per cent, the Odisha Government has a different view.
The Finance Minister said the inter se share of the State as fixed by the FFC has gone down from 4.779 per cent to 4.462 per cent of the divisible pool. However, since the vertical devolution has increased from 32 to 42 per cent, the share of Odisha has gone up by Rs 5888.43 crore for 2015-16.
Amat maintained the State has lost Rs 7664.74 crore towards reduced Central assistance in 2015-16. The Minister maintained that the loss in Central assistance for the ensuing financial year can be calculated only after the 2016-17 Union Budget is presented.
He said that the State had to lose Rs 1854.05 crore for discontinuance of Central assistance for eight schemes which were sponsored by the Centre. Besides a loss of Rs 732.17 crore for normal Central assistance, the State share in different schemes also increased by 3887.61 crore due to a change in funding pattern by the Centre.
The Minister said Odisha will also lose Rs 1190.91 crore as the FFC has discontinued several grants recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission. The total loss for the State was Rs 1776.31 crore, Amat said.
Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, however, dismissed the State Government’s contention. The State Government should issue a statement with details on funds received during UPA I, UPA II and the tenure of the NDA Government now, he said.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Narasingh Mishra criticised the Centre for the fund cut. This is an example of how the Centre has cut funds from several schemes meant for poor, he said and added that no alternatives have been announced after Central assistance for these schemes was stopped.