14th Finance Commission to be game changer for Arunachal: Jayant Sinha

Itanagar, Nov. 3 (ANI): The huge grant of 14th Finance Commission amounting to Rs. 55,897 crore for the next five years will serve as a game changer to overcome all communication and infrastructure problems confronting the frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh, said Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha.

This is much higher as against Rs. 44,066 crore by the Centre during 2014-15 alone, he told the media here, adding that this amounted to Rs. 53,414, highest per capita allocation in the country.

Sinha, who was here yesterday on his maiden day-long visit to review the progress of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Mudra Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Surakshya Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana with the bankers, had a thorough discussion with Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, his Cabinet colleagues and the senior officers led by Chief Secretary Ramesh Negi before meeting the mediapersons.

When asked about the financial position of the state, he said it is ‘excellent’ but resented against the overdraft drawn twice during 2013-14 and for 18 days in 2014-2015 despite sufficient fund in the treasury which is unusual in the country as no other state did it.

When asked to comment on the reason, he said quoting the officials that six months working season in the state and fund transfer position created the confusion resulting in over draft.

The Centre is committed to the multi-faceted development of the north-eastern states for which he was on a tour to review the fiscal resources, central programmes and status of economic development of this region for which the 14th Finance Commission considering the level of socio-economic development, forest coverage and infrastructure level has adopted three-pronged policy for financial allocation, Sinha said.

“Acceleration of financial process for financial inclusion, fiscal transfer and DoNER programmes are the three principles,” Sinha said.

“PMJDY and Mudra are the examples of first rule, while unconditional fiscal transfer by the Centre to state whose example is 14th FC grant and the DoNER has been allocated Rs. 23,063 crore for boosting socio-economic development,” he added.

Pointing out at the higher administrative non-plan expenditure of the state in comparison to plan expenditure, Sinha said the grant would herald rapid development of hilly and remote areas with disperse population resolving the inherent problems if the funds are used for planned expenditure instead of non-plan.

Mizoram is behind Arunachal in per capita allocation with Rs. 41, 742 followed by Sikkim with Rs. 32,330, he said, adding the NITI Aayog has also accepted the recommendation of its sub-group of CMs by offering allocation @ 90: 10 or 80:20 between Centre: state for eight NE and three hilly states.

Responding to a question if there was any bank branch along the border areas of this sensitive hilly state where the RBI recommended business correspondents for the financial inclusion was ineffective, Sinha clarified that speedy connectivity – roads, helicopter and water ways and telecommunication services by installing towers in hill tops – would solve this problem.

“I have flown over Uttarakhand and saw towers on every hill top so also Bhutan which could be emulated by the GoAP to improve connectivity,” he said.

When pointed out that CPSU BSNL was in true sense ‘Bhai Saab Na Lage’ even in the state capital, Sinha stated there are many private telecom service providers and the GoAP should tie up to improve the situation.

Responding to a question, he said that there are strict monitoring system in place like auditing, Central Vigilance Commission and Central Bureau of Investigation. However, on the allegation of fund mismanagement by the GoAP including the relief and rehabilitation fund, he denied saying there is no complaint.

When asked about the controversy regarding the state governor’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on scrapping the Greenfield airport at Hollongi, he said that his Cabinet colleague and Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had earlier at the helipad assured that the proposed airport would be built.

Commenting on the beef controversy, he clarified that all constitutional rights – freedom to speech, worship and eat – would be protected as any government is sworn to do that.

The statement of President of India, the PM, Union Home Ministry is very clear in this aspect, he added. (ANI)

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