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Bengal suggests alternative devolution formula to Finance Commission

KOLKATA

The West Bengal government on Wednesday said it has suggested an alternative formula to the 15th Finance Commission for devolution based on locational complexities, social backwardness, continuation of revenue deficit grants and others.

The panel, headed by its Chairman N.K. Singh, was on a three-day visit to the state.

“In their detailed presentations on state finances, officials emphasised on enhancing the devolution to the states, including a criteria of ‘Social Backwardness’ and Locational Complexities like hilly terrain, international border wetlands and population density, continuation of Revenue Deficit grants and state specific fiscal targets, among others,” a state govenrment statement said.

It said the state suggested an alternative formula for devolution based on Locational Complexities and Social Backwardness, while demanding a revenue deficit grant of Rs 90,136 crore for 2020-25 and grant for infrastructure gap funding of Rs 1,46,692 for 2020-25, it said.

The Commission, which recognised the progress of the state, brought op some concerns like low capital expenditure as a percentage of total expenditure during the detailed deliberation, but “was assured by the state government that there has been a substantial enhancement in capital expenditure”, the statement said.

State Finance Minister Amit Mitra based on his deliberations with CSSO, apprised the Commission that discrepancies related to the macro-economic parameters are expected to be reconciled by August 2018.

The panel chief also said the commission “will explore all possible ways” to restructure West Bengal’s debt as demanded by the state.

The Commission will finalise its recommendations by October 2019 after completing its discussions with all the state governments, the central government and relevant stakeholders.

N.K.Singh and other members of the Commission on Wednesday visited IT Sector of New Town and Eco Park at Rajarhat area, both on the city’s north east fringes.

Finance Commission members then toured Khemia Khamarpara Gram Panchayat at Barasat sub division of North 24 Pargana district, and held discussions on the financial and developmental activities with with members of the rural body.

They also went to the Madhayaymgram Municipality of North 24 Parganas district.

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