Fi­nance Com­mis­sion red-flags state’s slow growth, dis­par­ity

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTMETRO - HT Correspondent

MUM­BAI: Ahead of its visit to the state, the fif­teenth Fi­nance Com­mis­sion of In­dia has sounded an alarm over Ma­ha­rash­tra’s fi­nan­cial con­di­tion. Be­sides the fall in the rev­enue dur­ing the four years of the Deven­dra Fadnavis-led gov­ern­ment, the growth trend and the tax rev­enue too has sharply de­clined. There is also a sharp so­cio-eco­nomic dis­par­ity across dis­tricts, the com­mis­sion has re­marked.

The Fi­nance Com­mis­sion re­leased its ob­ser­va­tions af­ter meet­ing ex­perts from the state and de­lib­er­at­ing with the Ac­coun­tant Gen­eral of Ma­ha­rash­tra. Its ob­ser­va­tions ap­pear to be in­dica­tive of fis­cal in­dis­ci­pline dur­ing the cur­rent regime in the state. The Com­mis­sion has stated that rev­enue re­ceipts fell to 11.05% in 2014-17 from 17.69% in 2009-13. The growth trend of the state’s tax rev­enue de­clined from 19.44% in 2009-13 to 8.16% in 2014-17. “The fis­cal deficit of the state con­tin­ues to be well within the limit of 3% of gross state do­mes­tic prod­uct (GSDP). The debt stock to GSDP ra­tio is also well within the 17.5% limit set by the Ma­ha­rash­tra Fis­cal Re­spon­si­bil­ity and Bud­getary Man­age­ment Rules. Yet, a rev­enue deficit of 0.5% of GSDP con­tin­ues to be a wor­ri­some fac­tor,” the re­port stated. “The rev­enue deficit to GSDP ra­tio has in­creased even as the fis­cal deficit to GSDP ra­tio has fallen. This in­di­cates that debt is be­ing used for rev­enue ex­pen­di­tures. Rev­enue ex­pen­di­tures show rigidi­ties due to the pres­ence of high lev­els of salary and in­ter­est pay­ments,” stated the re­port re­leased on Satur­day.

Fi­nance min­is­ter Sud­hir Mun­gan­ti­war how­ever said the Com­mis­sion has not con­sid­ered the rev­enue growth of 22% this year. “We could reg­is­ter sur­plus growth from the es­ti­mated deficit for the fi­nan­cial year 2017-18 as per the au­dited fig­ures re­leased by the Ac­coun­tant Gen­eral . We will bring this to the at­ten­tion of the Com­mis­sion. The sit­u­a­tion is not as alarm­ing.” The Com­mis­sion is vis­it­ing Ma­ha­rash­tra be­tween Septem­ber 17 and 19.

“The state should fo­cus on rev­enue gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity. This has hap­pened de­spite the rise in the de­vo­lu­tion of cen­tral funds from 11% to 16% of to­tal rev­enue re­ceipts dur­ing 2012-17,” the re­port stated. The Com­mis­sion also rapped the state for poor fund­ing to ur­ban lo­cal bod­ies as com­pared to ru­ral lo­cal bod­ies. It has also red-flagged the slow pace of de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion. It has also crit­i­cised the state for the poor ir­ri­ga­tion per­cent­age (18%) de­spite hav­ing 35% of coun­try’s ir­ri­ga­tion projects.

The Com­mis­sion has also crit­i­cised the state for the sharp so­cioe­co­nomic dis­par­ity. “Six­teen dis­tricts in Vi­darbha and Marath­wada have per capita in­come be­low the state and na­tional av­er­age. 125 of the 351 tehsils have been iden­ti­fied as so­cially back­ward on hu­man de­vel­op­ment in­dex. Among Sched­uled Tribes, the poverty rate is high,” the re­port said.

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