Karnataka to seek changes to 15th finance panel's terms of reference

Karnataka to seek changes to 15th finance panel's terms of reference

Karnataka will participate in a meeting of the southern states convened by Kerala on April 10 to discuss the terms of the reference of the 15th Finance Commission, Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said on Thursday.

Karnataka was among the first southern states to flag the BJP-led Centre's move to set 2011 Census as the basis to determine devolution of funds, which dovetails with a larger 'north versus south' debate that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah stoked in a detailed social media post.

"Karnataka will attend the meeting in Thiruvananthapuram and demand amendment to the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, which will affect the interests of progressive states, especially the southern states," Gowda told reporters.

Kerala's Finance Minister Thomas Isaac was prompted to convene the meeting after Siddaramaiah's argument that Central allocation was not in line with the performance of southern states, Gowda said.

The minister said the BJP-ruled Centre had fixed terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission without consulting states. "Population is a key criterion in deciding size of allocation for states. All finance commissions in the past have had the 1971 Census as the basis.

But, this has been changed to 2011, which means allocation to states that controlled population growth will go down and that of states that did not bring down population growth will go up. Progressive states will be penalised for carrying out national duty of controlling population," Gowda argued.

The 'incentive' clause will also be disadvantageous to the southern states, he said. "Incentivising implementation of flagship Central schemes is flawed, because a state like Karnataka has already achieved results in rural electrification, rural road connectivity and so on through its own funds. Such states will not be eligible and hence, will not get the incentive," he said.

"Our stand is not sub-nationalism. In fact, we are true nationalists for having worked for India's development," Gowda said rejecing BJP national president Amit Shah's stand that the 'north versus south' debate was "dangerous to India's federal structure."


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