Injustice in allotting disaster relief funds: HDK

Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. PTI file photo

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy alleged on Tuesday that Karnataka was a victim of injustice in terms of allocations under the state and national disaster relief funds and urged the 15th Finance Commission to substantially increase the allocations for the southern state.

He also asked the commission to ensure that the Union government did not reduce the funding under the centrally-sponsored schemes both in terms of size as well as the sharing pattern between the Centre and the state.

"Injustice has been done to Karnataka in terms of the allocation under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) and the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). This is not only in terms of the meagre amount being allocated to the state but also by comparison to the allocations of other states," Kumaraswamy said at a meeting with the members of the commission, headed by N K Singh.

The members of the commission are currently on a visit to Karnataka.

The chief minister said in view of the severe and recurring drought in Karnataka, there was an urgent need for the commission to substantially increase the SDRF allocation for the state.

It was highlighted at the meeting that Karnataka suffered from drought in eight of the last 10 years and such cumulative distress had severely hit the farmers of the state and their earnings.

Kumaraswamy said the commission must ensure that once the sharing formula was decided, the Union government would not reduce the funding under the centrally-sponsored schemes both in terms of size as well as the sharing pattern between the Centre and the state.

"In the last five years, we have seen that while on one hand, the 14th Finance Commission increased the devolution to states from 32 to 42 per cent, on the other hand, the Centre, reduced its share in the centrally-sponsored schemes.

"As a result, most of the additional money received under the devolution formula had to be allocated towards the state's share of the centrally-sponsored schemes," he said.

The chief minister also pointed out that the base tax rates under the VAT regime in Karnataka were much higher and now, on account of the reduction in GST rates on several items, the actual tax collection for the southern state was adversely affected.

"I urge the commission to recommend to the Centre to continue with the compensation for another five years beyond 2022 or at least, protect the compensation level of 2022 for an additional five years," he said.

Kumaraswamy also requested the commission to consider inter-state transfers based on five criteria with equal weightage fiscal need based on population, fiscal cost based on area, fiscal contribution based on Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), fiscal capacity based on per capita private consumption and fiscal prudence/performance based on population management, management of ecology and compliance to the prescribed fiscal parameters.

In addition, he also requested the commission to favourably consider state-specific requests to cover the programmes, including doubling of farmers' income in view of the continued distress in the farm sector and the Jaladhare water supply project to ensure a sustainable drinking water supply from surface sources. 

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