Hyderabad: Telangana State put up a strong case for the Union government to continue with the permission given to States for additional borrowings amounting to two per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in the 2021-22 Budget year too in the wake of continuing crisis triggered by Covid-19.
Finance Minister T Harish Rao, participating in the pre-budget meeting of Finance Minister of all State convened by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, also urged the Centre to facilitate these borrowings without any further conditions.
The Minister also suggested that cess and surcharges collected from the public by the Centre should be done away with since they were not being shared with States. “As a result of these collections, States are losing huge revenues. The revenues from cess and surcharges can be compensated with an increase in Central taxes, which in turn will improve States’ devolution of funds from Central taxes,” he said.
Harish Rao also urged the Union government to immediately release pending dues under various Central schemes and also funds sanctioned by the 15th Finance Commission to Telangana State. He also sought immediate release of GST dues pending to the State, and urged the Centre to provide Covid-19 vaccine free of cost to the entire population as was promised by it in Bihar.
Recalling that the 15th Finance Commission had recommended sanction of Rs 723 crore as grants to Telangana State for implemention of various developmental and welfare programmes, he said the Centre, which did not honour the recommendations, should reconsider them at least now and continue the practice of sanctioning grants from the next budget, besides releasing grants sanctioned earlier.
As per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, he stated that the backward districts of Telangana were entitled to funds under Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) programme. He urged the Centre to release pending funds amounting to Rs 900 crore immediately for the previous and current financial years, apart from extending the facility for the next five years without fail.
Harish Rao said the Centre was providing loans to Women Self Help Groups and Cooperative Societies at subsidised interest rate only in 50 per cent of the districts across the country. He wanted the same facility to be made applicable to the entire country covering all the district as promised by the Union Finance Minister in her previous Budget presentation. He also urged the Centre to increase pensions being provided under National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) from the existing Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 per month.
Principal Secretary for Finance K Ramakrishna Rao, Government Advisor GR Reddy, Finance Secretary Ronald Ross and other officials were present.
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