21.11.2023: Centre’s insistence on claiming credit for schemes in State unfair, says K.N. Balagopal

The Central government’s insistence on claiming credit for schemes implemented in the State is unfair, Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal has said.

Talking to reporters here, he said the Centre-State relationship did not exist on an ‘owner-slave’ plane, but on an equal footing. Mr. Balagopal cited instances of schemes where the State was spending the larger share, and insisting that they be branded in favour of the Central government was unfair, he said.

In the case of the LIFE Mission housing scheme, the State had spent ₹16,000 crore on around 4 lakh houses in the past five-six years. Only a small portion of this expenditure accounted for the Central share, he pointed out.

Likewise, the Central government’s contribution to the monthly salary of ₹13,500 paid to mid-day meal cooks was only ₹600. “Social security pensions are given out to 62 lakh people in Kerala. Of this, only a small section, about 5.5 lakh people, get Central assistance,” Mr. Balagopal said.

The Centre’s insistence on branding schemes in its favour also came at a time when States such as Kerala faced huge cuts in Central transfers, he pointed out. With the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, States relinquished 44% of their taxation rights compared to 28% by the Centre, he noted.

Mr. Balagopal said MPs from the State would raise this issue in New Delhi, underlining the importance of a “healthy and democratic” Centre-State relationship in this context.

On arrears related to various payments including the Social Security pensions and the dearness allowance (DA) of government employees, Mr. Balagopal said Kerala would not run up arrears if it received its due share from the Centre. The Central portion in the State’s revenue receipts decreased from 44% in March 2021 to 29% now, he pointed out.

The LDF and UDF MPs from the State would jointly take up the issues faced by the State on the fiscal front with the Centre, Mr. Balagopal said, drawing attention to the decision taken at the MPs conference chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday.

Source: The Hindu 

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