Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac is the latest south Indian leader to throw his weight behind the opposition to the 15th Finance Commission’s Terms of Reference (ToR). He has called for a meeting with finance ministers of the other four southern states on April 10 to discuss the terms of the 15th Finance Commission and arrive at a consensus on what their response should be.
The 15th Finance Commission is a body that determines how much tax money collected by the Centre is allocated to various states in the country. The ToR has recommended that the 2011 Census be used to determine this distribution of funds, instead of the 1971 Census, which was used by previous commissions. Each state’s population plays a significant role in determining how the revenue is distributed; and the southern states, which have controlled their populations through a series of initiatives, believe this fiscal policy will hurt them.
Thomas Isaac’s office confirmed to TNM that the minister had written to his counterparts in the other southern states calling for a meeting. Sources added that he had personally called the ministers too and they had agreed to the meeting.
The minister reportedly said that the southern states were being ‘penalised’ for successfully implementing national policies.
"The southern states have implemented family planning measures since 1971, as a result of which the population of these states have come down. Therefore, the quantum of devolution of funds to the states will be affected if 2011 Census is taken as the basis point," sources in the financial department reportedly said.
Prominent southern leaders have already spoken against this move: DMK Working President MK Stalin wrote a letter to ten Chief Minister’s expanding on why he is concerned that this push to use the 2011 Census will affect the devolution of Central tax to the states.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah hit out the Centre for changing the base year to the 2011 Census and called for resistance among the southern states. In his tweet, he tagged the CM’s of the other southern states.