West Bengal Finance Minister Dr Amit Mitra on Saturday slammed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying there was a dichotomy in the latter’s distribution of central resources to the state governments.
According to Dr Mitra, while one the hand, Jaitley is making a big public display of giving more resources to the state governments through a higher rate of tax devolution, he is carefully concealing the fact that he is also taking away a lot from them. “When you asked me about my reactions to the 14th finance commission recommendations on the higher rate of tax devolution on Friday, I reserved my comments till I studied the budget details.
“Today, after studying the same, it is clear to me that while on the one hand the Union government is making a big public display of offering additional resources to the state governments through a higher rate of tax devolution, on the other it has negated those additional resources by curtailing allocation under major heads of the different centrally sponsored schemes for the state governments,” Dr Mitra told mediapersons at Nabanna on Saturday.
According to Dr Mitra, a 22.14% cut under Sarva Siksha Avijan, a 50% reduction under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and a 12% cutback under the National Livelihood Mission (NLM) are greatest examples of what has been given with one hand and taken away by the other.
“One figure is enough to prove this. The total central grant to the state governments was 4.05 lakh crore for 2014-15, which has come down to 3.28 lakh crore for 2015-16,. It is completely an anti-people budget,” he said.
Commenting on the Union Finance Minister’s announcement of a special assistance package for Bengal and Bihar, Dr Mitra said he is not quite sure whether this special package will come at all.
“The Union Finance Minister said that this special assistance package will come on the lines of what had been earlier announced for Andhra Pradesh. Now, Andhra Pradesh got a financial package of 850 crore. This a paltry sum since the Union government straightaway takes out 28,000 crore from the Bengal exchequer for servicing its debt,” Dr Mitra said.
“The West Bengal Chief Minister will surely take up the matter when she meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.