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Tue, 18 Jun 2019

Northeast Today

Neiphiu Rio Places Nagaland’s Plight to Finance Commission

Neiphiu Rio Places Nagaland’s Plight to Finance Commission
November 29
12:55 2018

NET Bureau

The government of Nagaland held a meeting with the 15th Finance Commission at the Civil Secretariat Complex, Chief Secretary’s Conference Hall on Wednesday.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio welcomed the FC chairman Nand Kishore and his team to the meeting and expressed hope that the interaction would make the commission appreciate the “reasons and circumstances that make Nagaland unique and different from other states.”

“There will be need for the government of India to pay out of the Consolidated Fund of India; a lump sum each year for the development programme in the Nagaland; and grants-in-aid towards meeting the cost of administration,” he said.

Neiphiu Rio stated that the financial position of the state had deteriorated significantly after the Centre discontinued funds to cover balance from current revenue (BCR) gap by granting Additional Central Plan Assistance (ACA) during the 9th FC, adversely affecting development activities.

He added that the ‘normative approach of the 13th FC affected the state by denying its ‘special category’ status and any special grant or treatment, which was why the state found difficult to release pay and allowances to its employees on time.’

Neiphiu Rio said that a ‘huge budgetary deficit of INR 1,811.85 crore, including the liabilities of works completed but not paid for’ was witnessed at the end of the 13th FC. He further stated that the revenue deficit continued on account of 10% increased tax devolution to the states from 32% to 42% has not benefitted smaller states, particularly Nagaland.

The CM also requested the Commission to consider setting aside 25% of the total devolution of share to the states for the ‘Special Category’ states as against the 11.53% allocated by the 14th FC which is found to be insufficient. Out of the 25%, 3% each may be allocated to states having geopolitical implications like Nagaland. He pointed out that the state was struggling to ‘provide 10% state share for Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) and flagship schemes due to resource constraints and a huge backlog of state share amounting to INR 294.05 crore because of which we cannot access the Central Share of 90% for these schemes and this has affected the infrastructure development in the state.’ He requested the 15th FC to 100% grant for CSS and flagship schemes as was intended in the 16 Point Agreement.

Neiphiu Rio said that the state has “spent INR 389 crore in constructing 33 new directorate buildings and replacing old buildings through Negotiated Loan from HUDCO at a high rate of interest” as most buildings are more than 50 years old, thus burdening the state financially. He also said that roads in the state required regular maintenance due to frequent rains and bad terrains but have been left unattended because of lack of funds.

He said that INR 3,458 cr. was required for infrastructural asset maintenance for the period of the 15th FC, and INR 7,212.10 crore was needed for 14 new development works to replace old offices; construction of a new Raj Bhavan, and completion of the new high court complex.

Rio said that the state would carry an additional burden of INR 1,272 cr. in the current year 2018-19 alone on account of 7th Pay Commission implementation in the state. He highlighted also the issue being faced by the state that it was asked to pay half the salary of teachers recruited in the new integrated scheme of the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SMSA) from April this year.

The total damage caused by the recent monsoon rains is estimated at more than INR 1040.63 cr. out of which the cost of permanent restorative works is estimated at INR 185.05 crore, he said. He added that the Indian government had sanctioned INR 189 cr. for a medical college at Kohima but the state would need INR 154.97 cr. for faculty and staff salary; and operational cost of INR 149.15 cr. during the period of the 15th FC.

Rio requested the Commission to “provide multi-purpose buildings in all the district headquarters to preserve our tribal heritage, traditions and culture at an estimated cost of INR 120 cr.”

He lamented that “Nagaland is the only State where there is no airport in the state capital. Therefore we have approached the Central Government for construction of a new Greenfield Airport at Ciethu near Kohima, for which 645.20 acres of land has been acquired. Another 398 acres is being acquired by the state to meet all requirements.”

SOURCE: Eastern Mirror

Image Credit: Dhaka Tribune

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