Change in terms of reference of 15th Finance Comm opposed in Rajya Sabha

Fifteenth Finance Commission Chairman N K Singh. Photo: PTI

A change in terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission on division of funds between the Centre and state was on Tuesday opposed in the Rajya Sabha, with a member saying it was an attempt to occupy more fiscal space.

BJD leader Amar Patnaik raised the issue through a Zero Hour mention, saying the Government last month amended the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the 15th Finance Commission, headed by N K Singh, by seeking a separate allocation out of the fund for defence and internal security before money is divided between the Centre and states.

"This is an attempt by the Centre to occupy more fiscal space," he said, adding the move will reduce the kitty that will be available for division between the Centre and states.

"It will reduce the fiscal space for states," he said, adding the Centre should make allocations out of its share of divisible pool.

He said the government altering ToRs is "dangerous" to federalism and will reduce amount transfer. He demanded that the move is abandoned.

The Union Cabinet had last month extended the term of the 15th Finance Commission till November 30 and mandated it to suggest ways for allocation of non-lapsable funds for defence and internal security.

The 15th Finance Commission was notified on November 27, 2017 and was mandated to suggest a formula for devolution of funds to states for five years beginning April 1, 2020.

Jairam Ramesh of the Congress termed the move as "very dangerous."

Sarojini Hembram of the BJD demanded revision in royalty rates for mineral including that of iron ore and coal.

She said rates of royalty, which accrue to states, were last revised in September 2014 and as per norm were due for revision every three years.

Royalty rates were due for revision in September 2017 and the government should expeditiously decide on them, she added.

Vaiko demanded scrapping of the Kundankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, saying it was becoming a site for "dumping of nuclear waste" which will destroy the region and turn it into a graveyard.

While Banda Prakash (TRS) wanted a census to include data on OBCs, Jharna Das Baidya (CPM) raised the issue of honour killing in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and Mumbai. Kahkashan Perween (JD-U) wanted the government to bestow national status to a fair organised in Bhagalpur in Bihar.

Abir Ranjan Biswas of the TMC raised the issue of over exploitation of Hilsa fish in the Bay of Bengal which has threatened the existence of the fish variety.

Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut raised the issue of India making it mandatory for Nepali citizens coming to India from third countries such as Pakistan, China and Hong Kong to procure visa first.

He said Nepal and China are growing closer and New Delhi should look at it very seriously.

Nepal last week cancelled birthday celebrations of the Dalai Lamba, a move which should be seen as a result of China's growing influence, he said.

While G V L Narasimha Rao (BJP) wanted Kusum Yojana for solar power plants to be implemented in rainfed areas so that farmers get a source of power, L Hanumanthaiah of the Congress raised the issue of floods in some regions of Karnataka.

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