No plans to grant special category status to any state: Govt
The minister was replying to a calling attention motion of Congress member KVP Ramachandra Rao who wanted convening of a meeting of the National development Council (NDC) to discuss the necessity for continuance of the concept of special category status.
Members of the Congress, the Left and Trinamool Congress, however, were not satisfied with the minister's reply and staged a walkout.
"There is no proposal for granting special category status to any state," Singh said.
Responding to the attack by the opposition parties, he said, "Instead of criticising the government for not giving special category status (to states), I would suggest they should go to their respective states and ensure fiscal discipline and develop their states by virtue of the extra Rs 1.78 lakh crore that we have given from the Planning Commission."
The last state to be accorded the special category status was Uttarakhand way back in 2001 and no state has been given the status after that, the minister added. Singh said the basic principle for according the special category status to a state was the approval from the NDC.
He said he would not deny that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced that they would give Andhra Pradesh the special category status for five years. The decision to give special category status to 11 states was endorsed by the NDC, Singh said.
"As far as Andhra Pradesh is concerned there was no endorsement, approval from the NDC... We are not giving special category status to Andhra," he added.
The minister said the last government could have asked the NDC to approve the status for the state but it did not do so even when they were in power. He said after taking over, the BJP government gave 10 per cent extra grant, amounting to Rs 1.78 lakh crore per year, to the states through the Finance Commission to take care of their fiscal requirements.
"The present government, over the past three years, has been thinking and acting out-of-box and following this approach, it has done away with the Planning Commission," the minister said.
"It used to be a humiliating experience for any state to ask for funds for their own respective states. We have done away with this humiliating experience," Singh said.
The NDC was a body for looking after developmental issues of national as well as states including the special category status to states for plan assistance during the regime of Planning Commission.
Special category status in the past has been given to 11 states including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Manipur among others. The transfer of resources to states is through Finance Commission.
The 14th Finance Commission has, in its recommendations, not made any distinction between general category states and special category states in the horizontal distribution of shareable taxes amongst the states.