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Spl category status issue: CM attacks Centre

SHILLONG: Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has criticized the Centre for not providing clarity on funding pattern for the states including Meghalaya which were earlier accorded special category status.
In reply to a question moved by Jemino Mawthoh on special category status for Meghalaya in the State Assembly on Thursday, the Chief Minister said, “The problem is with  Government  of India as it has not been able  to give clarity in as far as the issue of Special Category status  is concerned.”
Making it clear that the problem was not with the state government, he said that in the preceding years, successive governments at the Centre had treated Northeastern states and subsequently other states particularly the hilly states of the Himalayan region as special category states.
“Now the contention of the Union government after the acceptance of the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission is that there is an increase in devolution of taxes from 32% to 42% and with the increase of 10% the Centre felt that there was no further need for any other special grants which used to be passed on to the Northeastern states and others clubbed as special categories states,” he said.
The Chief Minister said that the matter was collectively taken up with the Centre by the affected states and the State had not received any communication from the Centre indicating the withdrawal of special category status.
However, the Chief Minister also said that since there was an apprehension about doing away 90:10 funding among the Northeast states and in view of persuasion of Meghalaya and other Northeastern states, the Centre has instituted a sub group of Chief Ministers to examine the rationalization of centrally sponsored schemes.
“The report of the sub group is awaited,” he said.
Pointing out that there will be disparity in the devolution of taxes to smaller states, the Chief Minister said that  if the increase of tax from 32% -42% is the reason for withdrawing the Special Block Grants  for  the special category states, the Government  of India is treating the Northeastern states at par with all other  advanced and developed  states because increase from 32% to  42% is passed into all the states throughout the country.
According to the Chief Minister, in this context, there is a reason to believe that the “Government of India, the leadership in Delhi have not been able to understand comprehend the complexity of the problem.
“So the problem is not with the state government, but the fact is that unless we persistently follow up with the Centre which we are doing and unless the Centre comes clearly on this issue, then this lack of clarity will still persist”.
Sangma said the Union budget had re-structured funding of the Centrally-sponsored schemes by stopping funding for 8 schemes, changing funding pattern for 24 schemes and continuing 31 schemes in existing manner.

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