Bhubaneswar:9/1/19:The meeting of the 15th Finance Commission headed by Shri N K Singh was held with the State Government of Odisha headed by Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar today. Also present were the Ministers of Finance, Parliamentary Affairs & Rural Development, Health & Family Welfare of Odisha Government along with Senior Officials of the State Government. Responding to the deliberations of the meeting, the Commission appreciated a number of steps taken by the State Government for the progress of the States.
On the health sector, the Chairman said that while Odisha was doing well in IMR and MMR but the ratio of number of doctor to population was well below acceptable level. He therefore, said that there was need of more medical colleges and institutes to improve the quality of health care specially in rural Odisha.
In the sphere of education, the Commission felt that Odisha required to put more emphasis in the sphere of R&D and also in HRD. Multipronged development is required in the primary, secondary and higher secondary education sector.
The Commission while complimenting Odisha for reduction in poverty across the State, felt that it still had some distance to cover to level with the national standards.
The Commission assured the State Government of support in the issue of clean energy cess to be spent on coal mine areas as has been proposed by the State Government. The Commission also promised the State to give its full consideration on the State’s proposals on disaster management and other matters.
Commission has appreciated the State Government for its project ‘KALIA’ ,for its handling of natural disaster and for Women empowerment. They hoped that identification of intended beneficiaries would meet the bench mark of transparency and credibility.
Earlier, the Chairman and members of the 15th Finance Commission had a most productive and enriching interaction with representatives of the various political parties in the state.
There were exchange of ideas and opinions, some familiar and some innovative. There was unanimity amongst both sides that cess and surcharge should be brought within the divisible pool. Most importantly the Commission felt that if there is constructive impediment Finance Commission must take this into account in its vertical devolution. The Idea of a heritage university and disaster management institute was discussed. The Commission felt that given the proneness of the state to disaster, such management institutions are constitutional impairment and deserve careful consideration.
The 15th Finance Commission’s also met with the the representatives of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and the Urban Local Bodies(ULBs).
The Commission was unanimous that all the three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions must get a part of the financial devolution. It was felt that enhancing revenue capabilities was essential to their viability. The Commission was concerned that levying of property tax is still not allowed – it deserved priority along with other measures to make the PRIs and ULBs self sufficient, felt the Commission.
At the meeting the Commission noted that Odisha was a shining example of women empowerment. 10 of 16 representatives of the PRIs and ULBs were women – actual representation even beyond legislated 50%.
Political parties shared the concern on progressive erosion of 7th schedule of the constitution.