States want more funds under centrally sponsored schemes
Several states on Sunday demanded more funds and flexibility under centrally sponsored schemes, while non-BJP ruled states including Uttar Pradesh asked for greater transparency and non-discretion in allocations.
Congress-ruled Kerala suggested the new body should decide on state quotas in the same manner the erstwhile Planning Commission used to do. West Bengal chose to skip the first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, chaired by prime minister Narendra Modi and attended by a host of chief ministers and representatives from most of the states and Union Territories.
Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam said vertical devolution of share to the states should be at least 50 per cent of the aggregate resources available with the Centre. “We believe that the non-transparent, discretionary and uncertain fashion in which funds were allocated and disbursed to States by the erstwhile Planning Commission and by different Central Ministries under various centrally sponsored schemes must be comprehensively overhauled,” he said. He stressed on substantial flexibility in the design of the flagship programmes to cater to the diverse needs and the capacity differentials amongst states.
Uttar Pradesh Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav made a case for at least 90 per cent of grants under central schemes. Emphasising on continuous interaction between the states and the Centre, Yadav urged the prime minister to make the process of allocation of funds to states more transparent and ensure that there was no room for “discretion” while allocating funds to the states. During the meeting, Modi announced rationalisation of 66 central schemes, which may include cutting down some of them. NITI Aayog was set up as a think-tank for the Centre and states on January 1 replacing over six-decade old Planning Commission.
On the other hand, Kerala Chief minister Oommen Chandy suggested that the Aayog should continue to determine the levels of funds to be allocated to the states and fix plan expenditure, like the Planning Commission used to do.
Bihar Chief minister Jitin Manjhi, who is facing a political turmoil back home, also asked for more central funds to states for social development programmes. He demanded special category status to the state.
Andhra Pradesh Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu demanded higher allocation to his state saying it has suffered a lot after its bifurcation. Lamenting that central assistance was disproportionate to the state population, Naidu demanded that his state be provided with a special status category and a special package. Those who attended the meeting also included Tarun Gogoi (Assam), Parkash Singh Badal, (Punjab) Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh) as well as Chief ministers from BJP-ruled states like Maharashtr, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.