Assam government on Thursday sought an award of Rs.307430.13 crore from the 14th Finance Commission to meet its non-Plan expenditure and give an added thrust to infrastructure development projects in the State.
In a meeting with Chairman, 14th Finance Commission Y.V. Reddy and other members at Assam Administrative Staff College in Guwahati, Mr Gogoi sought the intervention of the Commission in amending the existing methodology for calculation of the rate of royalty on crude oil from the existing 20 to at least 30 per cent.
Submitting a detailed memorandum to the Finance Commission, Mr Gogoi requested the Commission to increase the size of the divisible pool of Central taxes from 32 to 50 per cent. “The Commission should take an effective step to rectify the vertical imbalances between the Centre and the States by way of bringing cess and surcharges to the shareable pool of resources,” he said.
Mr Gogoi requested the Commission to give a ‘serious thought’ on the alarming floods and erosion problem in the State and consider special grant for Rs 6,000 crore to tackle the calamity faced by the State.
An official release stated that the Chief Minister made a strong case before the 14 Finance Commission for inclusion of erosion as a natural calamity under Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) and for providing Rs 1,000 crore to the state for rehabilitation of river erosion affected families. “So far 4.27 lakh hectare of land has been eroded since 1950. Every year the State accounts for average loss of 8,000 hectare due to erosion,” he said while drawing the attention of the Commission to the problem of erosion.
The Chief Minister requested the Commission to recommend a suitable fiscal package for the Sixth Schedule Areas of the State. The State Government in its memorandum asked for Rs 5,000 crore as grants-in-aid for meeting expenditures relating to ‘Look East Policy.’
Requesting the Commission to provide full assistance to the state for covering the gap including additional financial implication on account of pay revision of pay and pension, he described the directive of the 13 Finance Commission to put a cap on the expenditure of salary to 35 per cent of revenue expenditure as “unrealistic assumption” as the salary expenditure of Assam is more than 45 per cent of total revenue expenditure.
Advocating for retaining Assam as a Special Category State status, Mr Gogoi requested the Commission to set aside at least 30 per cent of the shareable pool for distribution amongst the Special Category States. He also urged the Commission to treat the entire income from cultivation and manufacture of tea as agricultural income from the existing 60 per cent to 100 per cent. He laid emphasis on the development of agriculture, agro-based industries, small and medium scale industries for economic development and large-scale employment generation to prevent insurgent groups from luring the rural youth. He also underlined the need for making the package of surrendered militants more attractive.
Mr Reddy in his speech said that infrastructural development is critical for the State’s development and for Assam’s emerging role in India’s ‘Look East Policy.’ He also said that State has been able to bring about peace and accelerating development in the past decade.