The 15th Finance Commission, which held discussions here with a range of stakeholders including the State government in the last two days, assured Tamil Nadu on Thursday that “good performing” States would be incentivised and not penalised.
Making this statement, N.K. Singh, Chairman of the Finance Commission, told reporters at the Secretariat that the panel would do everything possible to combine benefits of efficiency and equity.
He said the panel would ensure that a “good performing State not only in terms of demographic management but also in terms of other indicators of economic development is incentivised and not penalised” by recommendations of the Commission.
He was alluding to Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s opposition, expressed earlier in the day, to the use of the 2011 population data, which the Chief Minister contended, would “punish progressive States” such as Tamil Nadu that had achieved “success in population control” through their own efforts.
Mr. Singh added that it would be the panel’s “endeavour” to keep in mind all concerns of Tamil Nadu and ensure that “gains which Tamil Nadu has achieved can be further strengthened” in the future so that the State continued to act as an “important engine” for the country’s economic development.
Asked by The Hindu for his reaction to the State government’s reservations over the issue of expenditure control of populist schemes, the Chairman responded: “We do realise that not all schemes, which are populist [and which] have become popular, are necessarily undesirable.”
The matter had to be considered in totality.
He also pointed out that the mid-day meal scheme, which was first implemented in Tamil Nadu, was now being accepted universally as “as an important way of ensuring school attendance, meeting nutritional needs of children and was acting as an inclusive force in improving quality and efficiency of our education system.”
‘South vs North’
On the debate that the Terms of Reference of the Commission was being viewed as being adverse to the southern States and favourable to the north, Mr. Singh replied that the classification — South vs North — would not be a “fair way” to deal with the matter.
Even Chief Ministers of States such as Punjab, West Bengal and Odisha had expressed concerns over the terms.
He reiterated that the Commission would see to it that “better performers are helped to perform better even while those who have lagged behind mainstream development are helped to come to the national average.”