By: ML Verma
Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today claimed that the state has been made to pay for its better performance as it has not got due increase in its annual plan. While replying to the 17-hour-long debate on the general budget presented in the House on March 12, Dhumal said that the 13th Finance Commission applied a specific formula for deciding the plan size of each states.
He said that as Himachal is getting appreciation for its better performance in every area on the national level, including best fiscal discipline and human indicators, the 13th Finance Commission curtailed the state plan by keeping due increase on the lower side of 54 percent whereas others state ruled by Congress-led governments have got very high increase in their annual plans.
He said that Maharashtra and Rajasthan got 150 percent increase each in their plan, Arunachal 159 percent, and Maghalya 137 percent. Launching a scathing attack on the Union government, Dhumal alleged during the speech that the Union government was steadily trying to drag the major functions of states toward its purview, thereby making the condition of states critical. He said the Center was trying to beat the federal system by increasing its role in state affairs. He charged the Union government of undervaluing the tax collection of states by Rs 175 crore. He charged that states were getting 50 percent share in the central taxes during NDA rule, which was reduced during the UPA-1 rule to 27 percent, which was marginally raised to 32 percent by the UPA-2 regime.
Chief Minister deplored the charge of Congress members for terming the budget anti-employee and lack of sufficient funds to pay the pending dues on account of implementation of 5th Pay Commission recommendations. Dhumal said that the state government provided Rs 445 crore to release arrear for employees on account of salary hike. He said that the pending arrears of class-III employees would be disbursed completely. He said that state government has decided to pay 10 percent of pending arrear to pensioners as 372 crore have been laid for the same in the current budget. He said that the state government has raised the allocation for employees and pensioner by 18.8 percent to meet out the expenses on salaries and pensions. He said that state government is following Punjab pattern for disbursing salaries, and state has already paid 20 percent interim relief to its employees whereas Punjab could give only five percent.
Dhumal also announced in the House that ‘Dodha Ganga Yojana’ would be extended to the entire state as it was already implemented in Solan district. He said that the state government would take the services of retired vet. pharmacists to impart this service in the state.
He said that despite reduction in rice quota by the Center, the state is continuing its supply by providing 18 kg rice per ration card holder by feeding the gap form open marketing intervention scheme. The Chief Minster also refuted the charge leveled by members that cement are costly in the state as compared to nearby states. He stated that the Union ministries of steel and cement have refused to bring down the prices of products being used for infrastructure and construction due to increase in excise duty by two percent.
Dhumal said that the state government proposed to levy entry taxes on certain goods being used by mega projects in the state and no commodity being used by common man would be affected from this decisions. He said that the state government has proposed one percent increase in the value added taxes as the Central government had suggested this.
He refused to accept the demand to reduced hike in bus fare demanded by opposition leader Vidya Stokes. Dhumal said the state government was ready to withdraw the hike if the Union government withdraws hike in diesel and petrol prices.