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  India   All India  24 Apr 2017  PM Modi asks states: Help frame growth ‘vision’

PM Modi asks states: Help frame growth ‘vision’

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 24, 2017, 3:58 am IST
Updated : Apr 24, 2017, 3:58 am IST

The PM noted that the theme of regional imbalance was raised by a number of chief ministers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the third Governing Council Meet of the NITI Aayog, in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the third Governing Council Meet of the NITI Aayog, in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Evoking the spirit of “Team India”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called on all states to work in tandem with the Centre to ensure that the legislative arrangements at their level for the landmark Goods and Services Tax was put in place without delay. He said that the consensus on GST will go down in history as a great illustration of cooperative federalism.

Espousing the spirit of cooperative federalism, Mr Modi, in his closing remarks after the third governing council meeting of the Niti Aayog, held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, said the 15-year vision document which will replace the Nehruvian legacy of Five-Year Plans (the 12th Plan ended on March 31, 2017), and which was discussed by all chief ministers present at the meeting, will be firmed up after inculcating suggestions received from them.

Two of the Prime Minister’s bitterest critics — West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal — did not attend the meeting.

Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya came out with 300 specific “action points” for accelerating the country’s economic growth as part of his presentation at the governing council meeting. But no specific details of the action plan were made available.

Mr Panagariya noted that there were over 300 specific action points that had been identified, covering a whole gamut of sectors, and sought the inputs and support of the state governments to take the vision forward.

According to an official statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office after the meeting, Mr Modi described the day-long deliberations as “constructive”. Quoting him, it said that “the circulated vision document is a draft, and all suggestions given by the chief ministers will be taken into account before finalising it”.

The PM noted that the theme of regional imbalance was raised by a number of chief ministers. He agreed that this had to be addressed on priority, both nationally, and within states. In this context, Mr Modi sent out a message of inclusivity in line with the spirit of cooperative federalism espoused by the Niti Aayog.

Mr Modi also seconded Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s suggestion that states should take an interest in students from her state who are now studying in other states, and urged all state governments to reach out to these students from time to time.

His comments assume significance given some recent incidents of Kashmiri students living and studying in various states who faced violent attacks and harrassment. Some Kashmiri students were thrashed in Chittorgarh last week, and a hoarding was put up in Meerut asking Kashmiris to leave Uttar Pradesh.

Highlighting some constructive feedback received at the meeting from the chief ministers, the Prime Minister said there have been suggestions to have the financial year from January to December, instead of April to March. He urged states to take the initiative in this regard.

Ironically, as the Prime Minister harped on cooperative federalism, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal skipped the Niti Aayog’s governing council meeting. Ms Banerjee had missed the last meeting of the council as well on July 15, 2015. But Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, who had skipped the last meeting, was present at Sunday’s session.

The late J. Jayalalithaa, former Tamil Nadu CM, had not attended the 2015 meeting, but on Sunday her successor Edapaddi K. Palaniswamy was present, as were other non-BJP CMs like Tripura’s Manik Sarkar, Punjab’s Amarinder Singh and Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah.

In his closing remarks, the Prime Minister called on all states to use the GeM platform — Government e-Marketplace — to reduce corruption and increase transparency in government procurement. He said the use of technologies such as Bhim and Aadhaar would result in significant savings for the states.

Mr Modi said the District Mineral Fund, the CAMPA Fund, and the construction workers welfare fund, would provide significant boost to the resources of states. He asked the Niti Aayog to come up with a roadmap for better utilisation of such funds by the states.

In the morning, during his opening remarks, Mr Modi said the “Niti Aayog is working on a 15-year long-term vision, seven-year medium-term strategy and three-year action agenda.” He further noted that chief ministers do not have to come to the Niti Aayog for approval of their budgets or plans. The outfit, he said, had gone beyond relying on government inputs and inducted a number of outside specialists, experts and young professionals. The states too can contribute to policy formulation, he had added.

Mr Modi also noted while there had been a 40 per cent increase in overall fund allocations to states in 2014-15 and 2016-17, the percentage of funds tied to Central schemes had declined from 40 per cent to 25 per cent.

Participating in the meeting, Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami assured the Centre that his government would soon place the State GST Bill in the Assembly for consideration and passage. In his speech, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah also said the GST had forged a new model of cooperative decentralisation in the country.

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant also briefed the meeting of the work done by the think tank for transforming the economy and cooperation with states in sectors such as education, health and infrastructure. He also spoke about the work done by sub-groups of chief ministers on rationalisation of Centrally-sponsored schemes, Swachchh Bharat and skill development.

He outlined the initiatives taken in areas like agriculture, poverty elimination, health, education, digital payments, disinvestment, coastal zone and island development.

Tags: narendra modi, niti aayog, goods and services tax, rashtrapati bhavan
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi