The crucial meeting of the ministers of the southern states is underway in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram to discuss the concerns and views on the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the 15th Finance Commission. However, Tamil Nadu, Telangana has pulled out of today's meeting.
The meeting has been organised by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac in Thiruvananthapuram after the southern states opposed the latest terms of reference (ToR), which they claim will cut their share in revenues while benefitting the Centre with a bigger slice of the pie.
Talking to reporters, Kerala finance minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said the changes in the ToR of the 15th Finance Commission, that would adversely affect the southern states, has not become a debate in the country.
"The objective of the conference was to highlight the issue and make it a national agenda for debate", Isaac said. Slamming the Centre, he said the ToR was against the federal co-operative structure of the country. "We will not allow destroying the federal co-operative structure of the nation," he said.
The ToR has recommended using the 2011 census to calculate population for allocation of union tax revenue in place of 1971 census, which was used by previous finance commissions. This would adversely affect the southern states, he said.
There was uncertainty over the incentives to be given to states, he said. There were several issues that have to be discussed at the national level. The meeting would be the first step towards that, he said.
The Centre should provide freedom to the 15th Finance Commission to hear the states, Isaac said. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have confirmed participation in the conference, which would be inaugurated by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, he said.
OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)