Centre & states should work in unison for growth
Invoking the concept of ‘Team India’, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the Centre and states need to work together to put the country on a high growth path even as states pitched for higher allocation to meet additional outgo towards pay revision of their employees.
The minister said reforms initiated by the Centre in the recent past will be taken forward in coming months and urged the states to work together for putting India on the high growth trajectory.
Jaitley appreciated their efforts in attracting foreign investment and expressed the hope that “the growth momentum would catch pace in coming months”.
In a pre-Budget meeting with the states, Jaitley wanted them to step up spending on infrastructure and poverty alleviation schemes as the 14th Finance Commission has devolved higher funds to them.
“We expect that those states whose resources have been increased after the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission will spend further on infrastructure creation and anti-poverty programmes since their incomes have increased considerably,” Jaitley told reporters here.
He said the world economy is passing through a difficult phase and is quite fragile, adding that “though this has also affected India, especially exports, Indian economy is able to emerge as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.”
Several states, in their pre-Budget meeting with Jaitley, sought higher allocation in the upcoming Budget to implement Pay Commission recommendations as well as under centrally-sponsored schemes (CSEs).
“The states have discussed their own resources and each one of them is competing for higher resources, higher investment and they are all geared up to fight this environment of global slowdown so that India remains an economy which is on the move,” he added.
“Most states suggested that they have been concentrating on anti-poverty programmes, particularly on the agricultural sector,” he said and assured the states of more funding by the Centre.
Jaitley assured the gathering that the Centre would cooperate with every state, and as the growth of states increases, the national growth will be on the rise.
At the meeting, the states suggested a sharper focus on agriculture, which has suffered in the last two years due to inadequate monsoon.
Also, they demanded continuation of certain social development-oriented CSEs such as Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, ICDS, National Rural Health Mission and the like on the old pattern as many states find it hard to sustain them from their own resources.
During the meeting, the states suggested payment of CST arrears and higher allocation in the upcoming Budget for implementing Pay Commission recommendations.
The 7th Pay Commission in November recommended an increase in remuneration of about one crore government employees and pensioners, which is estimated to entail an additional burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore in 2016-17. The new pay scales, subject to acceptance by the government, will take effect from January 1, 2016.
The Finance Minister assured the States that the suggestions made by them in the meeting and the written memorandum submitted by them would be examined and suitably considered in the Budget proposals for 2016-17.
“But resources of states have also increased after the 14th Finance Commission. We want states to use these for anti-poverty schemes,” he said after the two-hour long meeting, adding: “We also hope they will spend further on infrastructure creation.”
Nagaland was represented by minister for National Highways and Mechanical Engineering, Nuklutoshi.