PANAJI: Representatives of political parties and local governing bodies on Thursday met the Fifteenth Finance Commission and sought funds for the cash-starved State.
Fifteenth Finance Commission Chairman N K Singh and its Members Ajay K Jha, Dr Ashok Lahiri, Anoop Singh and Dr Ramesh Chand and other senior officials were present.
Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), opposition Congress, Goa Forward Party (GFP) and M G Party, attended the meeting along with local governing bodies and the Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP).
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is scheduled to make a presentation before the commission on Friday.
The BJP delegations submitted a memorandum seeking financial assistance of Rs 1300 crore to the State keeping in view the mining crises, decline in tourism and in order to empower Zilla Panchayats (ZP) and to boost agriculture and waste management disposals.
The party requested the Commission to allocate Rs 300 crore towards the implementation of activities for the welfare of mining affected people till the mining operations are resumed in the State; Rs 250 crore to undertake activities to boost the tourism industry in the State and Rs 200 crore to two Zilla Panchayats to undertake developmental activities under increased allocation of powers.
The BJP also sought Rs 300 crore for setting up of new solid waste management plants in Goa and Rs 250 crore for sustainable development in agriculture sector.
The BJP delegation comprised its president Sadanand Shet Tanavde, vice president Dattaprasad Kholkar and general secretary Adv Narendra Sawaikar.
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Cong requests Commission to enhance allocation of funds
The Congress party requested the Commission to enhance the allocation of funds for smaller and well peforming States like Goa. At present the State receives around Rs 3000 crore as the State share and sought that minimum of 50 per cent of the collections be remitted back to the State.
GPCC president Girish Chodankar and Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat requested the Commission to assess vertical and horizontal devolution of funds differently for smaller States, having better performing parameters. The components of vertical devolution like in the Fourteenth Finance Commission, which gave 50 per cent weightage for fiscal capacity/income distance, needs to be suitably altered for States like Goa, which has highest per capita income, which otherwise results in no advantage for the State.
"We strongly recommend devolution to the extent of 50 per cent from the levels of 42 per cent made by Fourteenth Finance Commission so that the principles of co-operative federalism, which the Prime Minister speaks but does not follow; is actually brought into force," said Chodankar and Kamat.
They also requested the Commission to compensate for the loss of protected revenue upon implementation of GST, be further extended by a period of five years and the States be compensated for the loss of revenue on lower GST collections.
The Commission needs to reward States and suggest measures for special grants to the States, for protecting the natural fauna and flora, riverine and coastal resources, besides wildlife and forests, they said hoping that the Fifteenth Finance Commission will consider their demands and take necessary steps to include the same in their final report.
The Congress party appealed to the Commission to fulfil the aspirations of the people by generous devolution of grants to oa. This is over and above what government has submitted. But we are not consulted over the same, they said.
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GFP seeks one-time grant
The Goa Forward Party (GFP) sought one-time grant of Rs 6000 crore financial package from the Finance Commission for the rehabilitation of people affected by the closure of mining activity and to provide them alternative employment till resumption of mining in the State. The funds be disbursed in tranches during the next five years.
GFP president and MLA Vijai Sardesai, who made a presentation before the Commission, alleged that the Goa government was not seeking enough funds although the State deserves much more.
The party also sought funds for a rapid public transportation system such as monorail or sky bus.
"The State government is hesitant in seeking funds. We are not asking for any favour, what we are asking is the royalty which was paid to the Central coffers. It is our own money," Sardesai said.