Just an hour before the Centre uploaded the Andhra Pradesh ‘Special Package’ documents on the Finance Ministry website on Thursday evening, Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu asserted what New Delhi had granted the State was much more than ‘Special Status.’
“Acts and statements of some sections of the Opposition in A.P., especially burning the effigy of the PM, show them as losers. In my 40 years of public life, I have not known any government other than the current one deliver on its commitments to a new State in two years. What A.P. has got is more than what it would have got otherwise. The Congress, which in the first place ruined the case of A.P. and others, has no moral right [to criticise],” he told the Telugu media here. “Congress made the midnight announcement bifurcating A.P. in 2009. Why did it wait till 2014,” he asked.
“It is said that under the Congress rule, file notes were first marked ‘NOT APPROVED’ that would instantly change into ‘NOTE APPROVED’ once the deed was done. This is not Congress rule. We say what we mean and mean what we say,” said the Minister.
Details of assistance Separately, the Information Ministry put out a press release detailing the ‘Central Assistance to Andhra Pradesh.’ It is a summary of points made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at his late night briefing on Wednesday.
It said the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act provided for a development package to be given to the ‘backward areas of the State of Andhra Pradesh with adequate incentives for Rayalaseema and north coastal regions; Polavaram Irrigation Project would be a national project making the Centre responsible for its funding; the details of the institutions and infrastructure to be developed in the State were outlined in the Thirteenth Schedule to the Act; appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives to promote industrialisation and economic growth, would be adopted; and special financial support given for the creation of essential facilities in the new capital of the successor State of Andhra Pradesh, including Raj Bhavan, High Court, a Government Secretariat, the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.
Revenue deficit grant The note said the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said in the Rajya Sabha that the Special Category Status would be extended for a period of five years to put the State’s finances on a firmer footing.
It said the 14th Finance Commission did not make a distinction between Special and General Category States. Andhra Pradesh was determined to be among the revenue deficit States and the Commission recommended that the Centre provide a revenue deficit grant of Rs. 22,113 crore for the five-year period.
Also, Rs. 2,500 crore had already been paid for the creation of the new capital and the remaining Rs.1,000 crore would be paid in due course. Rs. 1,050 crore had already been disbursed.
A hard bargain — a list of Andhra Pradesh's demands and what the Centre agreed to.
Revenue deficit as per the A.P. Finance Department statistics at the time of bifurcation stood at Rs. 16,000 crore. It went up to Rs. 17,000 crore in 2015-16 and nearly Rs. 24,000 crore this fiscal year (2016-17).
Central government pegged the amount of deficit for five years at Rs. 22,113 crore. It claimed to have paid for bridging a revenue resource gap of Rs. 3,979.5 crore for 2014-15.
Centre said revenue deficit grants as per the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission have been paid for 2015-16 and 2016-17 and there are no issues pending on that score.
Special Category Status
A.P. has been insisting on Special Category Status.
Centre came up with “special assistance measure” promising to compensate through Externally Aided Projects an amount equivalent to what would be due under SCS.
A.P. government estimated the total cost to be over Rs. 50,000 crore.
Centre said it has already paid Rs. 2,500 crore as support for creation of new capital of Andhra Pradesh
A.P. had spent Rs. 1,713 crore out of Rs. 1,813 crore expenditure so far. State prepared to spend Rs.3,000 to Rs.4,000 crore in future.
Centre gave Rs. 100 crore to the project so far and now promises to bear 100 per cent of the project cost.
A.P. was promised IIT, NIT, IIM, IISER, Central University, Petroleum University, Agricultural University, IIIT, AIIMS-type Super Speciality Hospital, Tribal University and National Institute of Disaster Management.
Centre yet to clear decks for Tribal University and Central University which are promised in assistance package.
A.P. has been demanding new Railway Zone.
The Central government cites a delay in location of headquarters vis-à-vis Viskahpatnam or Vijayawada.