Andhra Pradesh

NITI Aayog ruled out special status to Andhra Pradesh: Venkaiah

The Centre was almost prepared to grant the Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh but two factors dissuaded it from going ahead — clamour from nine more States for the same tag and NITI Aayog ruling out the possibility.

This was disclosed by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu in an interview to The Hindu on Sunday.

He was responding to a question on what prevented the Centre from granting SCS to Andhra Pradesh, which would have taken the sting out of Opposition criticism and earned the NDA, including the TDP, a lot of goodwill from the people of the State.

“Till the end, my argument was the same before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. When we are prepared to give thousands of crores of rupees more through other means why not the SCS? In fact, at one point I even said, leave everything and just give SCS, the main demand. But we soon realised that it could trigger a similar demand from other States, with nine of them already seeking it. NITI Aayog too ruled it out citing the 14th Finance Commission report that had made it clear that it would not make any distinction between special and general category States,” he said.

The Minister asserted that the class of SCS would cease to exist going by the Commission report.

Quoting from its report, he said it took into account disabilities arising out of constraints unique to each State to arrive at expenditure needs and recommended filling of resource gaps mainly through increased tax devolution.

Where devolution was not able to cover the assessed gap, it had recommended post-devolution grants for revenue deficit and the Centre has agreed to take that responsibility in the case of AP spread over five years.