The finance ministers of six opposition-ruled states and union territories met President Ram Nath Kovind today and sought amendments in the “unfair” terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission. The delegation included Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Both Narayanasamy and Sisodia handle the finance portfolio as well. It also included the finance ministers of Punjab, West Bengal, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. “If the existing terms of references of the 15th Finance Commission are implemented, the states will stand to lose their financial autonomy,” Sisodia said after the meeting.
A memorandum was submitted by the delegation to Kovind seeking his intervention in amendments to the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission. “The terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission raise serious concerns,” the memorandum stated while listing “infringement of constitutional provisions”, “disruptive federal fiscal arrangements”, and “technical errors” as grey areas concerning them. It also alleged that the terms of references “eroded autonomy” and caused “significant financial hardships” to all the states. The 15th Finance Commission “must apply” to the union territories (UTs) with legislature — Delhi and Puducherry, they demanded.
Since the AAP dispensation came to power in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Sisodia have been accusing the BJP-led Centre of not giving Delhi’s “due share” in the central taxes revenue. In April this year, Kejriwal had said that the AAP government would move court for its “due share” in the central taxes revenue and then distribute the funds it gets among the cash-strapped municipal corporations.
According to Kejriwal, Delhi residents pay Rs 1.5 lakh crore income tax which is the “highest” in the country, but when it comes to fund sharing, Delhi does not get anything.