Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today said states need not worry about the probable recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission as there would be no discrimination of any sort. The Commission would give its report only after due consultations with all states, he said, adding that its Chairman N K Singh assured him that past performance of the states would be duly recognised. The Vice-president’s remarks assume significance in the light of the recent concerns raised by some states and union territories over the terms of reference of the Commission.
A conclave of Chief Ministers and Finance Ministers of various states held in Amaravati on May 7 noted that the ToR of the 15thFinance Commission “posed a threat to the economic independence of the states” and made a strong pitch for assured devolution (of funds) rather than discretionary devolution. The conclave strongly opposed the ToR saying it reflected the Centre’s “discriminatory” attitude towards the states.
A delegation of finance ministers subsequently met President Ram Nath Kovind and submitted a memorandum seeking amendments to the ToR. The Vice-President, who visited Andhra Pradesh after a gap of several months, laid the foundation-stone for the construction of National Institute of Disaster Management at Kondapavuluru village near here.
The Vice-President referred to the 15th Finance Commission issue during his address and said he had “detailed consultations” with the Commission Chairman and members. Naidu said “Some states, who were successful in population control, fear that the Commission recommendations may put them at a loss. There are many apprehensions from other states as well. But, at the end of my consultations (with the Commission Chairman and members), they told us that there is no question of north or south or east or west.
Such discrimination will not be there.” As Vice-President and Chairman of the Council of States, Naidu said he told them two things–states which are performing better should not be penalized and two implementation of reforms should be encouraged. They assured him that past performance would be recognized and given special support, Naidu said.
The terms of reference of the Commission were “only guidelines” and the Commission would decide on the final award after due consultations with all states, he added. “So, states need not panic or have any apprehensions,” he asserted. Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Machilipatnam MP K Narayana, state minister for Law Kollu Ravindra and others attended.
The National Institute of Disaster Management, which covers the southern states, is being set up in accordance with the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. The Centre has released Rs 37 crore for the first phase of works that are expected to be completed in a year.