Oppn states take on govt over fi­nance panel terms

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION -

New Delhi: Chief min­is­ters and fi­nance min­is­ters of Puducherry, Delhi, West Ben­gal, Ker­ala, Pun­jab and Andhra Pradesh have shot off a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Ram Nath Kovind say­ing the terms of ref­er­ence of the 15th Fi­nance Com­mis­sion vi­o­lated the fed­eral prin­ci­ple as en­shrined in Con­sti­tu­tion, eroded au­ton­omy of all states and brought sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial hard­ship to states.

These states de­manded that some of the com­mis­sion’s terms of ref­er­ence (ToR) be amended, and also sug­gested amend­ments. “The terms of ref­er­ence of the 15th Fi­nance Com­mis­sion raise se­ri­ous con­cerns. They are qual­i­ta­tively dif­fer­ent from the terms of ref­er­ence of pre­vi­ous fi­nance com­mis­sions,” the let­ter said. “Some of the changes in­fringe on the pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion. Some oth­ers are dis­rup­tive of well-set­tled fed­eral fis­cal ar­range­ments in In­dia,” it added.

It added that the ToR­would re­strict states from ful­fill­ing their con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions as listed in the sev­enth sched­ule. “They will also pre­vent states from work­ing ef­fec­tively to­wards in­de­pen­dent and dis­tinct goals,” it said.

The states said that the award of the 15th Fi­nance Com­mis­sion must ap­ply to Union Ter­ri­to­ries with leg­is­la­tures, namely, the na­tional cap­i­tal ter­ri­tory (NCT) of Delhi and Puducherry. Some south­ern states like Ker­ala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh slammed the move to use the 2011 pop­u­la­tion as the bench­mark for de­vo­lu­tion of taxes to states. The gov­ern­ment has said the ToR rightly balances both the “needs” rep­re­sented by lat­est pop­u­la­tion and “progress to­wards pop­u­la­tion con­trol” very well.

The CMs and FMs told Pres­i­dent Ram Nath Kovind that fed­eral prin­ci­ple and states’ au­ton­omy were be­ing af­fected

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