Oppn states take on govt over finance panel terms
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