The 15th Finance Commission, on a visit to Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, said it cannot look into the matter of special category status for the state, reported PTI. Finance Commission Chairperson NK Singh said Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu “forcefully” raised the matter during a meeting, but this does not “directly or indirectly” form a part of the panel’s Terms of Reference.
Singh added that the absence of an institutional mechanism to implement the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, which divided the state, may be the reason for the controversy over special category demand, PTI reported. “In all other previous Reorganisation Acts, there has been an implementation mechanism,” he said. “This is one unique Reorganisation Act which has no institutional mechanism, there is no institutional memory and there is no assigning of responsibility.”
The Naidu government has repeatedly demanded that the Centre grant the state special category status. In March, the ruling Telugu Desam Party had walked out of the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre.
On Thursday, Singh said Andhra Pradesh must be helped to achieve double digit growth over a long time if India’s Gross Domestic Product has to increase at 8-9%. Singh also assured Naidu of “positive action” in response to his plea for assistance.
Meanwhile, the Finance Commission said there was no intention of penalising states that achieved better growth, in terms of devolution of funds, PTI reported.
“I can see the apprehensions the states have on use of population criteria [for devolution of funds],” Singh added. “We have been asked to use the later census figures [for 2011]. That’s an area in which the commission has to give further thought.” He said the 14th Finance Commission had been asked to use 1971 population data as criteria for devolution of funds.