SHILLONG | June 04, 2019:
The Meghalaya Government today submitted a detailed memorandum to the 15th Finance Commission team and sought higher devolution of funds by way of enhancing revenue deficit grant in the last finance commission.
The 15th Finance Commission team led by its chairman, NK Singh met with the Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma, his cabinet colleagues and bureaucrats of the state and held a detailed discussion on the financial position of the state.
During the meeting, the State Government demanded Rs 82,821 crore from the commission. The State also projected a pre-devolution deficit to be 62,870 crore rupees for the period of 15 Finance Commission. The Chief Minister, however, refused to divulge the details and said that these are only proposals and hoped that the commission would consider the amount keeping in mind the view of the state government.
Speaking to media persons, Chairman of the 15 Finance Commission, NK Singh said that the Finance Commission supports the endeavor of the State Government to substantially increase the pace of growth of the economy of Meghalaya.
He said that the State GDP of Meghalaya last grew at above 11 percent. “But for a period from 2011 to 2018, the State GDP of Meghalaya grew between 5 to 6 percent. This is significantly low than the normal GDP growth, which is significantly low comparing with other Northeastern States,” Finance Commission chairman said. Singh also said that Meghalaya GDP needs to grow above the double digit number and informed that last year, the state managed to achieve 10.5 percent GDP growth.
“But the State needs to grow significantly above this to be able to catch up for the lost time and also improves on its ratings. It is important that the State becomes increasingly more self reliant rather than to depend on such a high sustainable percentage Central transfers for the economy of Meghalaya,” Finance Commission chairman said
Meanwhile, Singh observed that Meghalaya felt that there are some revenue issues in view of the loss of revenue on account of ban on coal mining and uncertainty in GST which deserves attention of the Commission.
“We will look into all these and see where these issues are reversible and whether the impact can be mitigated over the time. We will consider the request for additional revenue grant,” Singh said.
Talking about his meetings with the trade and industries sector of the state, Finance Commission chairman said that most of the traders and industries in Meghalaya are seeking better connectivity with Bangladesh through Chittagong port even as he added that the opening of the trade and commerce with Bangladesh will help not only Meghalaya but other North-eastern states as well.
He urged upon the North Eastern states to collectively take up the matter with Central Government so that the Centre takes up the matter with Bangladesh.
When asked about the State PSUs which are not yielding much benefit to the state exchequer, he added that that the most dominant issue which they face is the issue of power, adding that the Chief Minister himself has admitted that the transmission and distribution losses need to be addressed.
The finance commission team comprising of its member, secretary, joint secretary, deputy director, assistant director and economic officer also held meetings with the members of the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) and urban local bodies.
During the meeting, the KHADC demand Rs 1544.34 crore to carry forward the various programs and policies of the Council.