Karnataka Minister Krishna Byre Gowda accused the Centre of injustice done to the state in central allocations, and appealed to the 15th Finance Commission to make fair recommendations.

No member from south India in 15th Finance Commission Karnataka Minister Byre GowdaFacebook
news Finance Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 12:36

On Wednesday, Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Krishna Byre Gowda expressed his displeasure over the 15th Finance Commission not having a single member from south India. 

"It’s unfortunate that Central Government could not find one capable person from South India to serve in the 5 member 15th Finance Commission. In past many members from the South have done illustrious service to the nation," Krishna Byre Gowda tweeted.

The 15th Finance Commission was constituted in November 2017. The members led by Chairman NK Singh are AN Jha, Dr Ashok Lahiri, Dr Anoop Singh, Prof Ramesh Chand. AN Jha had in March replaced Shaktikanta Das, who had resigned as member of the Commission after he was appointed as RBI Governor. The Commission has been tasked with determining how the tax revenue collected by the Centre is distributed among the states for the period of five years, beginning on April 1, 2020.

The 14th Finance Commission was led by former RBI Governor YV Reddy. The other members included M Govinda Rao, Sushma Nath, Abhijit Sen, Sudipto Mundle and AN Jha.

In a series of tweets, Krishna Byre Gowda also reiterated Karnataka's long-standing demand for drought relief and pointed out that injustice has been meted out to the state. "Injustice was done to Karnataka in Central allocations during 2015-20. For eg. to meet the needs of drought and floods, Karnataka got Rs 1527 crore under SDRF (State Drought Relief Fund) for the period of 2015-20, whereas Maharashtra got Rs 8195 crore," he said.

The Minister said that the Karnataka government has appealed to the 15th Finance Commission to "correct these injustices" and "make fair recommendations". 

"I hope this failure of the Central Government will be overcome by the members of current Commission and do justice to the better performing states of the South. Instead of penalising, we hope they will reward performance and efficiency," he added. 

On Tuesday, the members of the 15th Finance Commission met with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and several bureaucrats. The Commission claimed that it would not change the Terms of Reference (ToR) but would consider the concerns of the southern states. Byre Gowda's statement comes after the Commission's stand to refuse to change the Terms of Reference despite stiff opposition from the South Indian states. 

The 15th Finance Commission was constituted in November 2017. Last year, several regional parties from the south including state governments like Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh, voiced their objections to the 15th Finance Commission’s Terms of Reference, which uses the 2011 Census data instead of 1971 to allocate funds to the state. They argued that setting 2011 Census as the baseline would penalise states that managed to control their population, while rewarding those states that have failed to do so.

In April 2018, Finance Ministers of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry met in Thiruvananthapuram to deliberate the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission. This set off a series of dialogue between Finance Ministers of several southern states demanding that the Terms of Reference be changed, stating it contradicted the principles of federalism. 

Krishna Byre Gowda, who was the Agriculture Minister in 2018, represented Karnataka at the meeting. He had maintained that the Terms of Reference incentivises those states that will reach the replacement fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman. But progressive states like Karnataka, that have worked hard to control their replacement fertility rate, bringing it down to less than 2.1 will lose out.  

“Under the incentives clause, states which will reach the replacement fertility level of 2.1 will also get incentives. Meaning those states which have reached or crossed below 2.1 will not get incentives. Which means all the progressive states which did their nationalistic duty, called for by successive governments of India to bring the population down, which did bring it down over 30 years, will not only lose out on the first count of shifting the basis from 1971 to 2011 Census, but will also not be eligible to get the incentives which are laid out in the ToRs for 2.1. There is a double whammy delivered to progressive states in the issue of population,” Byre Gowda had said.

The Centre had last year justified the use of 2011 Census as the baseline stating there was merit in using more recent population data. 

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