Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Saturday wanted the Finance Department to prepare a memorandum to be presented to the 15th Finance Commission highlighting Telangana’s needs. A Finance Commission team is expected to visit the State shortly.
The memorandum should take into consideration the needs of the people in the State and the enormous expenditure outlays to be made for the implementation of key programmes and projects.
The Chief Minister held a review with Secretaries of different departments and other top officials on the preparatory exercises that are mandatory ahead of the visit of the Finance Commission.
Identification of the priority areas in making the budget proposals also came up for discussion. Underlining the need for change in the role of the Commission, he said it would be better if it confined itself to policy-making.
Each State has a separate cultural and economic background based on the livelihood and lifestyle of its people, and hence, devolution should be the right of the States.
There is a great deal of diversity in the States’ requirements, and this needs to be taken into consideration. The Finance Commission should focus on broader terms of leveraging the nation’s economy, Rao said.
It is not right on the part of Commission’s officials to visit the States with preconceived notions. It is not proper for them to decide on terms of reference (TOR) before visiting and discussing with the State governments.
The Chief Minister said though there were different governments at the Centre and in the States, they failed to bring any qualitative change in governance and lives of the people, and it was time for introspection.
People are disappointed with the policies. They are agitated. The political system offered by the parties at the Centre that ruled the country so far, failed the nation, Rao said.
He said the country has a broad fiscal policy, but instead of moving in the direction of decentralisation, there was further centralisation in the system.
“I told NITI Aayog at one of the meetings that the Centre should not come in the way of growing States. The growth of the State should be considered as the growth of the country. Do not disincentivise growing States. Even for the provision of meagre funds, a lot of conditions are imposed by the Centre,” he said.
The kind of relationship expected to exist between the Centre and the States as enshrined in the Constitution is on the wane. It is unfortunate that the stand adopted by the Centre on the issue of devolution of powers is undermining the States, he said.
The Chief Minister also reviewed the State budget preparations. He said the modalities of budget for the next fiscal should be worked out broadly by taking the needs over the next five years into consideration. The budget proposals should evaluate “where Telangana stands today and where it should be after five years.”
The government should act as a catalyst and facilitator of development, instead of performing just the task of providing the rule of law. Budget-making should be based on a comprehensive policy that focuses on each and every issue involving the State’s development.
“Having been elected as Chief Minister, I have been thinking on how best I can serve the people. Preparation of budget should be taken up after getting abundant clarity on the needs of the State and its people. It should not be an exercise in a hurry,” he told the officials. “We should have a clear assessment of the money we are likely to get in the next five years and how we are going to spend it,” he said.
While preparing the budget estimates for irrigation, it should be taken into consideration the funds the government spent in the past four years, and what it was likely to spend this year and in the next five years, he said. It will all work out to Rs 2 lakh crore, he said.
Rao said all clearances from the Government of India were obtained for all the major projects being implemented by the State, which is a great achievement and should reflect in the budget.
Similarly, the Chief Minister cited the examples of sheep distribution scheme and how it can be taken forward. Other big areas of advantage for the State, he said, were fisheries and the handloom sector. The handloom sector can be an attraction for international markets and, the skill of Telangana on this front must be utilised. In the power sector, he said Telangana stands number one in terms of per capita consumption.
Kaleshwaram as tourist spot
Chief Minister suggested that while preparing budget proposals, thought should be given on how Kaleshwaram can be developed as a tourist spot as well as a pilgrimage centre. The Triveni Sangamam at Kaleshwaram is an ideal tourist spot. The budget should also focus on the tourism advantages of Telangana.
He asked the officials to workout modalities for the modernisation of agriculture, including research facilities in universities. The budget should also take into consideration as to how the concept of food processing industry can be taken forward.
Referring to education and health sectors, the Chief Minister suggested to examine how best the State can take advantage of private universities. He said rules for starting private universities must be framed in such a way that the State can attract students who otherwise prefer other States and foreign varsities. The Chief Minister said even international students could be attracted.
Drinking water was now available across the State and this, he said, was an indicator of the development index. While preparing the budget, the Chief Minister suggested that estimates are made with regard to the industrial requirements and the type of infrastructure needed.
“Hyderabad is a global city. It’s one among the five larger cities in the country. It needs a minimum of 100 urban parks. To save Hyderabad, prepare a master plan, which will last for generations,” he said.
Let the budget reflect as to how Hyderabad can be made as truthfully global and how much we need to spend in the next five years. Hyderabad will stand as a backbone of the State’s economy, he said.
After the Cabinet formation, as and when it takes place, there will be a rigorous orientation-cum-training programme for all Ministers and Secretaries at the Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, on their roles, powers and responsibilities.