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13th Finance Commission Report
Punjab hopes dashed: Manpreet
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 25
Terming the 13th Finance Commission report as a “huge let-down”, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal today said all hopes of Punjab had been dashed even as he personally called on panel chairman Vijay L Kelkar for considering the state as a special case in view of the turmoil it had to face during militancy.

According to Manpreet Singh: “We had pegged our hopes on the commission’s report, but to no avail… I had given three options to the panel: Punjab’s debt, especially of the militancy period, be waived. If waiver not possible, pay-back period be stretched over 30 years. And, interest on it be reduced.” Notably, Punjab was expecting the restructuring of its debt, which would have provided major relief.

“I’m sad nothing has been done in this regard… We had to take more loan annually to pay back interest on the one taken during the militancy period, an act that landed Punjab in huge debt. Punjab’s loan burden is in the range of Rs 63,000 crore,” Manpreet said. He added that Punjab’s share from the shareable tax revenue had been enhanced from 1.29 to 1.4 per cent by the commission, which would ensure Rs 300 crore extra for the state, besides additional Rs 400 crore from allocation of revenue to state-specific programmes. Notably, the 13th Finance Commission has ignored several recommendations made by the Empowered Committee of the State Finance Ministers. The empowered committee had urged the commission to devolve at least 50 per cent to the states from the total shareable tax revenue. However, the commission has made a marginal increase from the existing 30.5 to 32 per cent.

Also, the commission has done nothing substantial about the centrally-sponsored schemes. States feel that the Union government had established its control over the states through centrally-sponsored schemes, which was against the federal spirit of the Constitution. “No relief has even been given to states for implementing the recommendations of their respective pay commissions. After the revision of pay scales by the Centre, the states had to follow suit,” said Manpreet Singh, adding the state exchequer had to face Rs 2,000 burden after the revision of pay scales.



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