New Delhi, Feb 25: The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has written to Chief Ministers, informing them of the Government`s decision to wholeheartedly accept the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.
Following is the text of the Prime Minister`s letter:
I sincerely believe that strong states are the foundation of a strong India. Even as Chief Minister, I had been saying that the progress of the country depends on the progress of states. This Government is, therefore, committed to the idea of empowering states in all possible ways. We also believe that states should be allowed to chalk out their programmes and schemes with greater financial strength and autonomy, while observing financial prudence and discipline. We are clear that without this, local development needs cannot be met and marginalised communities and backward regions cannot be brought into the mainstream.
With this in mind, we have replaced the Planning Commission with the NITI Aayog with the explicit intent of ensuring that this becomes a common forum for forging a national vision on development. Such a vision and the concrete steps that all of us take will help in realising the development aspirations of our people.
It is in this context that we have wholeheartedly accepted the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, although it puts a tremendous strain on the Centre's finances. The 14th FC has recommended a record increase of 10% in the devolution of the divisible pool of resources to states. This compares with the marginal increases made by previous Finance Commissions. The total devolution to states in 2015-16 will be significantly higher than in 2014-15. This naturally leaves far less money with the Central Government. However, we have taken the recommendations of the 14th FC in a positive spirit as they strengthen your hand in designing and implementing schemes as per your priorities and needs.
In making its recommendations, the 14th FC has made a fundamental shift in the pattern of financing revenue expenditures. It has assumed all central assistance to State Plan Revenue expenditure to be part of the states' revenue burden and determined devolution on this basis. Para 7.43 of its report explains this. The dominant view of states too has been that a majority of the resources should flow as tax devolution and the number of CSS should be reduced as the 14th FC states in Paras 8.6 & 8.7.
Therefore, there is a shift from scheme and grant based support from the Central Government to a devolution based support. Hence, the devolution of 42% of divisible resources.
Therefore, as per the 14th FC, all State Plan Revenue expenditure has to be met from the resources being devolved to states. In spite of this large devolution, we have decided to continue with some support to topmost areas of national priority such as poverty elimination, MNREGA, education, health, rural development, agriculture and a few other areas.
You will appreciate that, following the acceptance of the 14th FC recommendations, we are moving away from rigid centralised planning, forcing a 'One size fits all' approach on states. States have always been voicing their opposition to this philosophy for years. Accepting these long standing concerns and long-felt lacunae in the country's planning process, our Government has decided to devolve maximum money to states and allow them the required freedom to plan the course of states' development. The additional 10% of resources being devolved will give you this freedom.
In this overall context when you are flush with resources, I would like you to have a fresh look at some of the erstwhile schemes and programmes supported by the centre. States are free to continue or change these schemes and programmes as per their discretion and requirement. In all these, the Union Government, particularly the NITI Aayog, will support states in developing a strategy and in its execution through ideas, knowledge and technology.
This is all towards the fulfilment of my promise of co-operative federalism. As you have already seen, we have decided to involve states in discussing and planning national priorities. This is being done so as to maximise the outcome from every rupee spent either at the centre or the state. It was with this spirit of Team India that all Chief Ministers have been made equal partners in the Governing Council of NITI Aayog. This is our strategy to take the country to a faster and yet inclusive growth trajectory through co-operative federalism which is real and true federalism.
We are happy with our decision and that resources are going to the right place. Resources are going to states to ensure that poverty is eliminated, jobs are created; houses, drinking water, roads, schools, hospitals and electricity are provided. This has never happened in this country before.
In addition, we have recently revised the rates of royalty on minerals which benefits many states. The ongoing transparent auction of coal and other minerals will result in flow of over Rs. 1 lakh crore of additional funds to mineral and coal bearing states. Eastern India, which is less developed in spite of having immense mineral resources, is an important gainer and this is an opportunity for this part to catch up with the rest of the country.
Resources, thus, are not and will not be a problem. The issue is the direction and intent of our policies and our capacity to implement. You will agree that money, either at the central or the state level, should be spent to address the key challenges before the Nation. The focus should be the poor, farmers and common men and women, the youth and children. The challenge is to address the factors which inhibit the realisation of their full potential.
This is a golden opportunity in our nation's economic development process. My recent visits across the world have shown that there is a lot of optimism about India and interest in investing here. Everyone wants to partner with India in its growth story. This is not an opportunity for the central government, but an opportunity for India as a whole.
Let us aim at a quantum leap in the process of our nation's development. I am writing this to you in order to seek your co-operation and involvement in defining key challenges facing your state and the country and to devote the time, energy and resources to address these. I expect that every state will come up with a plan for its key priorities and deploy resources for this purpose. We should also adopt a rigorous system of evaluation of schemes and projects. I will work with you in this effort. Together, we have to establish benchmarks in terms of quality of works and their speedy execution.
Let us work together in this direction. I will be available for any consultation in this regard at any time."