Raju Das SHILLONG, March 10 - Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma today said in the Assembly that it is a “wrong perception” amongst some that fund devolution to the State is being repressed due to political consideration.
Meghalaya leader of opposition Donkupar Roy participating in Assembly session in Shillong on Thursday. – UB Photos
To a call attention motion moved by Leader of Opposition, Donkupar Roy (United Democratic Party), asking whether the BJP-led NDA Government was holding back fund to Congress-led State in Meghalaya, Sangma answered in the negative.
“This is a wrong perception that this is a Congress Government and therefore the Union Government can reduce our entitlement. No, whatever is our entitlement would keep on coming,” the Chief Minister stated.
He said that according to the 14th Finance Commission (FC), tax devolution is calculated based on a factor and this factor remains unchanged.
However, the CM said under the 14th FC special block grants have been done away with in the North East, which were earlier considered as special category States. He said that the various States of NE have been demanding that these special block grants be restored.
Stating that the reason for doing away with the special block grants according to the NITI Ayog is that tax devolution to States was increased from 32 to 42 per cent.
“We are saying don’t set same benchmark for all, the Northeastern States need to catch up with the rest of the country,” Sangma pointed out. He further stated that there is a lot of “confusion and lack of clarity” with regards to several schemes that were earlier funded under the 13th FC.
Schemes like Backward Regions’ Grant Fund (BRGF) and Infrastructure for Export Promotion (IEP) were stopped abruptly by Union Government, Sangma informed the House.
“On one hand there is emphasis on Act East or Look East policy and programmes like IEP have been stopped. Three districts in the State would now not get benefit under BRGF. So there is lack of clarity and confusion at this moment,” Sangma said.
On fund allocation to the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs), Sangma said that an amount of Rs 267.40 crore has been sanctioned by Union Finance Ministry for the three ADCs. Out of this amount, the Khasi Hills ADC would get Rs 133.12 crore, Garo Hills ADC Rs 171 crore and Jaintia Hills ADC Rs 33.57 crore.
However, the Union Finance Ministry has set conditions for utilisation of the amount and the ADCs have to first propose the schemes and project to the State Government for seeking fund. The ADCs have to furnish compliance, utilisation certificates to avail fund, which in turn would be sent to NITI Ayog and the Finance Ministry, Sangma said.