Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today reaffirmed the state’s demand to reframe the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the 15th Finance Commission to ensure fairness and equity in the matter of devolution of resources to the states.
Speaking at the fourth meeting of the Niti Aayog Governing Council in New Delhi, he reiterated the state’s apprehensions and concerns on the ToR of the Commission.
Vijayan said the state’s development efforts have been constrained by changes in the funding pattern of the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS).
“The changes have increased the state’s contribution to CSS, resulting in shrinking the fiscal space of the state”, he added.
“Cooperative federalism can be achieved only if States are equal partners in the development process’, an official release here quoted him as having said.
Vijayan said introduction of GST has limited the freedom of states to raise financial resources and that though there were expectations of buoyant revenue growth, as Kerala is a consumption-oriented State, there have been substantial revenue losses.
“We are still dependent on compensation”, he added. Despite fiscal constraints, the state has undertaken several initiatives to improve the life of people, Vijayan said and listed out various schemes initiated by the CPI(M) led LDF government that came into office in May 2016.
Vijayan spoke of the state’s ambitious plan to build houses for nearly five lakh families in the next three years and requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a larger allocation to the state by front-loading Central assistance to rural housing in the next three years.
He also requested enhancement of the Central assistance to the ‘Aardram Mission’, the state government’s ambitious health programme.
Referring to the recent Nipah virus outbreak, which claimed 17 lives in Kerala, he said the disease had demonstrated the need for advanced diagnostic and treatment facilities.
“Kerala remains one of the few states that have not been allotted an All India Institute of Medical Sciences. We once again request the Centre to allot an AIIMS to the state,” he added.