Jammu And Kashmir's Begging Bowl Has Come Crashing: Congress

28 March 2015

Jammu: Days after Haseeb Drabu said that Jammu and Kashmir will no longer go to Delhi with a 'begging bowl', Congress on Saturday took a jibe at the Finance Minister saying the 'bowl has come crashing so soon' while referring to Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed's demand of continuation of 90:10 grant-loan ratio at NITI AYOG. Mufti on Friday sought continuation of existing funding pattern for special category states, saying any change in 90:10 grant-loan ratio for Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) will have serious implications for the state. 'It is easy to talk of fiscal autonomy, economic independence, quite another to walk that talk. All the talk about no longer going to Delhi with begging bowl has come crashing so soon (over the issue of 90:10 funding pattern of special category states),' Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Nawang Rizgin Jora told reporters on Saturday. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Friday stated that dispensing with the 90:10 funding pattern for Centrally-Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) for Special Category states will have serious implications for JK which he said is strategically located and has seen a difficult period since 1947. Mufti said that JK and the North East states, which have huge locational disadvantages coupled with challenging security scenario, will be severely handicapped if the 90:10 funding pattern is done away with. 'We have seen a turnaround for the better in these states now. The recommendations to change funding pattern and de-link some Centrally-sponsored schemes from Union support will seriously hamper the implementation of these schemes in a state like ours,' said the Chief Minister. Mufti was speaking in NITI Ayog in New Delhi yesterday during the meeting of the Sub-Group of 10 Chief Ministers, a think-tank constituted for rationalisation of Centrally-sponsored Schemes. 'After having made too much of a song and dance about highest ever devolution of funds under the new scheme of financing, both the Chief Minister and Finance Minister are in Delhi with a begging bowl,' Jora said. 'Fiscal prudence also demands facing the fiscal reality of the state and this state of ours has become a dependent state,' said Jora. 'During the course of budget discussion, I had warned that the state may end up getting lesser money in the kitty than was made to believe. 'In the euphoria and excitement of presenting the budget for the first time (after having written six budget speeches) Drabu ended up giving in to his journalistic indulgence more than simple budgetary exercise,' he said. 'Jammu and Kashmir along with North Eastern states belonged to the special category states where we stood to gain from 90:10 grants to loan ratio as per the previous scheme of financing'. 'Now we have been put to great disadvantage under the new scheme of financing. Is it the fault of the state that it has both hilly and mountainous terrain; that it has factors of seasonality; that it has high infrastructure index; that it has locational disadvantages; that it has low resource base; that it has problem of viability of projects and economic activities because of geo-climatic constraints,' Jora said. 'How is the statutory devolution under the new scheme of financing going to help the state. And if indeed the state stands to gain, why did Mufti Sahib had to plead so strongly with the NITI AYOG,' he said adding that the fact remains the NITI AYOG is itself confused hence the committee under its CEO to examine the issue. 'The new scheme of financing under Finance Commission is premised on factors such as forest cover, area, population, fiscal discipline and most importantly on fiscal capacity- income distance. This last criteria has been given 50% point weightage. Hence, trip to Delhi with Mufti Sayeed is meant for this,' he said on funding to centrally sponsored schemes. 'The Union budget divided 66 centrally sponsored schemes under three categories. The first 31 comprised those to be funded by the Centre. The second category of 8 have been transferred to the states. These include backward region grant, scheme for police modernisation etc,' he said. 'The third category of 24 schemes are those that are to be jointly funded by the state and the Centre - these include many social sector and welfare schemes,' said Jora. 'If the idea was to give more fiscal autonomy and fiscal flexibility why are almost all the states protesting including BJP-ruled states,' he said. Jora said that henceforth the Centre will reduce its support to both the fully funded and partially funded schemes. 'States are expected to meet up the gap from the devolution funds. All in all your plan assistance will get reduced by 50% so also your flow of funds under CSS,' he added. 'Added to this the state, given its fiscal health, may choose to give up many of the schemes out of one that stand transferred to the states for financing. Acche Din Aa Gaya hai,' he said.