15th Finance Commission: Naveen Raises Odisha’s Concern Over ToR

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has expressed concern over the Terms of Reference (ToR) stipulated by the Centre in the 15th Finance Commission for devolution of funds to states.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naveen sought his intervention in the matter, stating that it would adversely affect states like Odisha.

“The Presidential order dated 27th November, 2017 on constitution and Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission has made significant departures from the Terms of Reference of previous Finance Commissions, which may have adverse impact on horizontal devolution for Odisha as well as vertical devolution for States,” he said.

The Chief Minister also claimed that suggestions made by Odisha during the consultations prior to the notification of the ToR have been ignored.

“On vertical devolution, the Terms of Reference seek to put fetters on the permit of the Commission. Instead of giving the freedom to the Commission to arrive at its recommendations on resource sharing between the Centre and States based on the respective needs and after due consultations, there are leading suggestions in the ToR indicating the overriding priorities and concerns of the Union Government,” he wrote.

With regards to horizontal devolution, the ToR makes a radical departure by mandating the Commission to use population data of 2011 while making its recommendations, he said.

The Chief Minister said the use of 2011 Census data is contrary to National Population Policy Statements and the assurances to States that have actively implemented population stabilization measures. “It will have a huge adverse impact on our share in devolution as Odisha is already below the Population Replacement Rate of 2.1 indicating that we have stablised our population,” he said, while demanding the use of population data of 1971 Census instead for recommendations.

Naveen also tried to draw the attention of the Centre towards Odisha’s demand for the special category status. “The state government has made relentless efforts to reduce poverty and improve human development indicators such as literacy, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, nutrition, health, drinking water and other social infrastructure. However, our State has a high percentage of population belonging to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. Historically, the physical and social infrastructure in a large number of the districts has been inadequate requiring huge resources to plug the gap,” he said.

Taking this issue further, he mentioned about central schemes such as special plan for KBK, IAP for LWE affected districts, and Backward Regions Grant Fund being discontinued.

Naveen also rued its repeated requests for allowing Odisha to avail sharing pattern in the centrally-sponsored schemes at par with North-east and Himalayan states going unheeded.

He ended the letter requesting Modi to intervene into the matter and address the issues appropriately.

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