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Opposition meet to focus on ‘fiscal federalism’

A. M. Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on September 14, 2019 Published on September 14, 2019

FMs of non-NDA States to attend one-day event in Thiruvananthapuram today

A seminar, to be organised by the Left-led Kerala government’s Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation on Saturday, against the additional terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, will see the Opposition parties coming together on the issue of fiscal federalism and sharing of taxes and revenue resources.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the one-day seminar.

Finance Ministers of almost all non-NDA States will be present in the seminar on the theme — ‘Additional Terms of Reference of the 15th Financial Commission: Implications for the States’. Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told BusinessLine that the State government decided to hold the seminar because it believes that additional terms of reference is unconstitutional, unethical and against the economic logic. “We thought we will have a seminar in Delhi to discuss the issues involved. We don’t want this to go unchallenged,” he said.

Isaac said that the additional terms of reference will be counter productive at the time of economic slowdown. “This is the period when you need economic expansion and fiscal stimulus. But these people (Centre) think of reducing the tax devolution to States. They are curbing the additional borrowing power of the States and putting constraints on them so that they are not be able to undertake any stimulus. There has to be a joint effort by the Centre and States. The additional terms of reference stands ill-equipped to face the current economic slowdown,” he added.

The first session in the one-day seminar will be on ‘15th Finance Commission - Story So far’, and will be chaired by Puducherry Chief Minister and Finance Minister V Narayanasamy. Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia; Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal; West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra; and former Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu will also speak at the event. Another session titled ‘Threats to Federalism’, will be addressed by senior Opposition politicians such as Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Jairam Ramesh and Dipankar Bhattacharya.

Members of earlier finance commissions will speak at a session on Union Government Responsibilities: Perspective of Finance Commissions. Eminent economist Prabhat Patnaik will chair a session on Fiscal Health and Development Implications for States. There are sessions on Implications of Fiscal Stability and Governance, Response of the Fourth Estate and the Constitutional Implications and Additional Terms of References.

Fear of a recession

CPI General Secretary D Raja told BusinessLine that IMF has commented upon the economic slowdown.

He said such seminars will give a message that State governments cannot keep silent on such a slowdown. There is concern that a depression or a recession is in the offing.

“We have to assure people that we are with them,” Raja added.

Published on September 14, 2019

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