Central fund squeeze strangling Bihar’s finances: State Finance Minister

Bihar Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary on Friday accused the central government of step-motherly treatment to the state and said the revenue generation in the divisible pool, through which states get their share, non-cess and surcharge share has also remained stagnant. It is done. -The divisible pool has doubled.

Bihar Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary addresses a press conference during the budget session of the state assembly on February 28.
Bihar Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary addresses a press conference during the budget session of the state assembly on February 28.

The finance minister was replying to the government’s reply on the budget for the state for 2023-24 in the assembly after a debate during which 15 leaders from different political parties expressed their views since the budget was presented on Tuesday.

The opposition BJP on Thursday blamed the government for failing to announce jobs and generate its own revenue without adequate financial provisions in the budget.

Chaudhary said that the Center is harming the states in three ways. “The Center announced higher devolution of funds to states from 32% to 42% recommended by the 15th Finance Commission in 2015-16, but the reality is that no state gets that much. As of 2019, it was only around 35%-37%. It was 32% in 2019-20. It was 33% in 2020-21 and 31% in 2022-23. It is estimated to be 30% in 2023-24. This is gross injustice to a poor state like Bihar as it puts huge financial pressure. To make things more difficult for the state, there is an increasing number of centrally sponsored schemes for which the state has to pay an equal share, though the Centre’s share never reaches in time.

The Finance Minister said that despite NITI Aayog’s recommendations that it should not exceed 30-35, there were more than 100 centrally sponsored schemes. “The Center wants to take credit for all the sponsored schemes, name it, while the burden is on the state, which has limited financial strength. Even successful state schemes are subsumed into centrally sponsored schemes to take credit after all our hard work.

Chowdhary said that cess and surcharge are always for a limited period and purpose and should not run endlessly without benefiting the state. “But they have been there for 20-30 years now and are increasing. That is the reason why the benefit of the huge fall in the prices of crude oil in the international market could not reach the common people. The price of petrol has been 20/Litre excise duty. However, the basic excise duty is justified 1.40, which goes into the divisible pool. Rest are special and additional excise duty 11/Litre, which goes to the non-divisable pool. Next is the road and infrastructure cess 5/Litre and Agriculture Development Cess 2.50/Litre, which also goes to the non-divisible pool. Therefore, the state’s share from the divisible pool is getting redirected more and more, even as the Centre’s revenue growth is increasing,” he said.

The minister, who is from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD-U, said dedication to the party is good, but one should not turn a blind eye at the cost of the state and society, as the BJP leaders were demonstrating. “The story of Bihar’s development is not hidden from anyone, but it cannot be seen by those who prefer blind games. The night-time illumination atlas prepared by the National Remote Sensing Center of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for 2012-21 showed a 474% increase in the availability of electricity in Bihar to the world. Women empowerment and livelihood have been cited as success stories that are starting a silent revolution in the state, while the country director of the United Nations Environment Program lauded Bihar’s climate resilience model. If BJP leaders are not seeing all this then nothing can be done. But for Nitish Kumar, all I can say is that he has miles to go before he can sleep, because he has a lot to do. He is a leader who talks,” he said.

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