PM promises states more funds, greater powers

PM promises states more funds, greater powers

He offered to transfer some of the 66 centrally sponsored schemes, for which Rs 3,38,562crore was provided in 2014-15, to states.

Exhorting Chief Ministers to bury differences to help India achieve high growth and create jobs, Prime Minister NarendraModi Sunday promised more funds to states with greater powers on their utilisattion, even as he asked them to address issues delaying projects.

Keen to revive investment cycle, Modi at the first Governing Council meeting of the newly-constituted NITI Aayog asked Chief Ministers to personally monitor factors impacting project execution and suggested that an officer be identified in each state to monitor and resolve pending issues.

He offered to transfer some of the 66 centrally sponsored schemes, for which Rs 3,38,562crore was provided in 2014-15, to states. A sub-group of Chief Ministers would be set up under NITI Aayog to look into rationalisation of these 66 schemes and recommend which ones "to continue, which to transfer to states, and which to cut down".

"We will move away from ‘one size fits all’ schemes and forge a better match between the schemes and the needs of states," Modi said.

Modi also announced setting up of two more such sub-groups—one for skill development and creation of jobs within states and the other to create an institutional framework to make ‘Swachh Bharat (Clean India)’ a continuous initiative.

Identifying poverty elimination as the biggest challenge, he said the new body, which replaced the long-standing socialist era plan body Planning Commission, will forge a model of "co-operative and competitive federalism".

"Forgetting all our differences, let us focus on the cycle of investment, growth, job creation and prosperity," he said at the meeting attended by Chief Ministers and representatives of 31 states and Union Territories, addressing them as ‘Team India’

Noting that India cannot advance without all its states advancing in tandem, the Prime Minister said the idea was to bring up all states together in the spirit of ‘SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas’.

Later briefing reporters, Finance Minister ArunJaitley said that Modi told CMs that "the priorities are growth, investment, jobs, poverty alleviation, decentralisation, efficiency and no delay in execution of projects".

The Prime Minister, Jaitley said, also highlighted that the economic activity really is to take place in states and therefore states have an important role to play.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee skipped the meet, but Bihar Chief Minister JitanManjhi, who is facing a political turmoil back home, was present. States like Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh demanded more funds for states, while Kerala sought greater flexibility in central allocations.

Those who attended the meeting included AkhileshYadav (Uttar Pradesh), TarunGogoi (Assam), Parkash Singh Badal (Punjab), O Panneerselvam (Tamil Nadu), OommenChandy (Kerala), Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh) and N Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), as well as Chief Ministers from BJP-ruled states like Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

The interaction during the Governing Council meeting was co-ordinated by Finance Minister ArunJaitley, while opening remarks were made by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman ArvindPanagariya. The Prime Minister is the Chairperson of the new institution.

Noting that projects are often held up for want of timely decisions, Modi asked Chief Ministers "to give personal attention" to factors slowing down projects and asked them to "focus on the cycle of investment, growth, job creation and prosperity".

He also asked states to set up two task forces each to help the country get out of problem of poverty and increase agricultural production.

The Prime Minister called upon Chief Ministers to work with the Centre to forge a model of co-operative federalism where the two work as Team India and "come together to resolve differences, and chart a common course to progress and prosperity".

Describing the meeting as one that has the potential to bring about historic changes, he said the Governing Council of NITI Aayog would help advance the national cause "as we jointly define it".

He added that he envisioned different states competing with each other in promoting governance initiatives, in a spirit of "co-operative, competitive federalism".

Stating that the world has started looking at India differently, he said "our biggest challenge still is how to eliminate poverty".

Jobs, he said, cannot be created, and poverty cannot be eliminated without growth. "First and foremost we should aim at a high rate of growth."