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GST consensus exemplar of cooperative federalism: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday applauded Chief Ministers of states for setting aside ideological and political differences for a consensus on the GST regime which he said will "go down in history as a great illustration of cooperative federalism".

In his opening remarks at the Niti Aayog Governing Council's third meeting here, Modi said the consensus on Goods and Services Tax (GST) shows the strength and resolve of the Indian federal structure and reflects the spirit of "one nation, one aspiration, one determination".

Urging the states for cooperation, the Prime Minister said the vision of "new India" could be realised only through the combined effort of all states and their Chief Ministers, a NITI Aayog statement said.

The NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog is working on a 15-year vision, seven-year medium-term strategy, and three-year action agenda, which will be presented at the meeting. It will replace the Five-Year Plans prevalent since Independence.

Modi said this effort required the support of the states, and will eventually reflect in benefits to them.

During his address, Modi urged the states to speed up capital expenditure and infrastructure creation.

The Prime Minister also called for carrying forward the debate and discussions on simultaneous elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha.

Modi urged the private sector and civil society to work in tandem with the government for national development.

Speaking of the change in Budget presentation date, the Prime Minister said it will enable timely availability of funds at the beginning of the financial year.

"Earlier, budgeted scheme funds were generally not approved by Parliament till May, after which they would be communicated to states and ministries. By that time, the monsoon arrived. Hence, the best working season for schemes was typically lost," he said.

From this year, the government has advanced the date of Budget presentation by almost a month to February 1.

Modi also mentioned the end of distinction between Plan and Non-Plan Expenditure based on the Rangarajan Committee recommendations in 2011.

"Several important items of expenditure were included as Non-Plan and hence neglected. Hereafter, the emphasis will be on distinguishing between development and welfare expenditure on the one hand, and administrative overheads on the other," he said.

The NITI Ayog Council meeting chaired by the Prime Minister was attended by the Chief Ministers of most of the states.

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