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Left and right hands

29 May. 2015 11:29 PM IST

Nagaland including other north eastern states coming under the Special Category status are rightly apprehensive about the funding pattern recommended by the 14th Finance Commission of India where the onus would be based on certain parameters and not in consideration of the Special Category status. As per the guidelines laid down by the 14th FCI, the planning would focus on demography and the GDP of a state and also linking outlays to outputs and outcomes. The report of the Raghuram Rajan Committee also proposes to replace the “Special Category” status of various states with a “Multi-dimensional index”. The onus would be on performance merit rather than on the “Special Category” merit. Development rests on basic infrastructural foundations such as good roads, efficient power supply and honest implementation of programmes and schemes meant to benefit the majority of people. With around Rs.7000 cr or roughly 60% of the annual budget, which goes as expenditure for payment of salaries to around 1,40,000 government employees and the remainder of 17,80,000 people left with approximately around 40% of the budget; there is no doubt that the financial condition of the state cannot get over the current problems. The number of employees has shown a rise from 1,20,000 during 2012-13 to around 1,40,000 during 2013-14. The 13th Finance Commission had fixed the ceiling on the state’s salary expenditure at 35% of the total revenue expenditure excluding pension and interest payments, whereas the reality is that the salary component is already around 60%.There is no justification for such a huge rise in the number of government employees when the government is already saddled with over saturation in employment. The practise of “backdoor appointments” in many departments are simply unacceptable for various reasons. First, when the government has issued a ban order on creation of posts, yet more administrative units have been established. Secondly, if posts were created, these should have been widely advertised to give opportunities to thousands of educated unemployed youths languishing with jobs for years. Thirdly, the highly questionable practise in many departments need to be highlighted and government has to answer as to whether any action is being contemplated. Despite the state continuing to reel under a massive deficit which has currently touched around Rs.1252.85 crore, “backdoor appointments” have only added to the problem especially when the Centre has clearly indicated, that it cannot provide the huge demand for additional fund sought for by the state government. Earlier, state chief minister T.R.Zeliang, who also holds the finance portfolio, had expressed confidence that the award of the 14th Finance Commission which had recommended devolution of 42% of Central taxes to the states, would be favourable with regard to introduction of systems management where states would have more liberty for sub-allocating priority areas. If the state’s annual debt servicing amount is to be taken into account, then the financial burden would be cumbersome in the face of meagre revenues. The hard fact is that, Nagaland cannot forever expect indulgence from the Centre since the onus today is on performance merit rather than on the “Special Category” merit. The new plan body NITI Aayog, which replaced the Planning Commission of India, is currently weighing the demands of the Special Category states of the north east and it can be assumed, that tough days are ahead.

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