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New Delhi : “The full Potential of Jharkhand’s economy is nowhere near realisation,” said N K Singh, Chairman of the visiting 15th Finance Commission (FC) at a Press Conference at Ranchi. Expectations with which the State was created to achieve fast growth and rapidly catch up with India’s fast growing economy remains an unfulfilleddream, irrespective of the factors responsible for it, he said.

On the question of independent decision making, the FC Chairman re-asserted the Constitutional position of the commission and the ensuing autonomy. The Commission has faced no interference in its independent approach from any stakeholder in the discharge of its Constitutional obligations, he said. The Terms of Reference of the Commission are determined by the President of India in its notification and the Commission is expected to address them in a manner it considers appropriate. He stated that both the Centre and States are equal applicants before the Commission and are expected to submit an independent memorandum for the Commission’s consideration.

Poverty numbers in absolute terms remain alarmingly high with wide inter-district disparities. The FC Chairman, however, noted that in last few years, some significant improvement with respect to key indices of Human Resource Development, Infant Mortality Rate, Education index and composition of expenditure like Capital vs Revenue expenditure had been made.

The Commission also noted, that till 2010-11, there has been a broad adherence to the FRBM Act. However, in the last 3 Years, there has been deterioration in both Fiscal Deficit as well as Debt-to-GDP Ratio. The Commission recognised that the State Government was seeking to address the challenges of the Jharkhand Economy.

The Commission took cognizance of the fact that the State Government & administration has recognised the need for environmental management in line with Sustainable Development Goals along with high rates of growth. They recognized that Fiscal Deficit and Debt-to-GDP Ratio needs to be moderated with a suitable medium-term fiscal management path. Issues of uncertainties of revenues due to GST need more data to analyse as to why the State is not in a position to achieve growth in GST numbers as compared to the country as a whole, according to a PIB release.

Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das, in his welcome remarks, highlighted the growth momentum in the State after its start with a low base at the time of its creation. He reminded the Commission about the peculiarities associated with the tribal population and its Culture, which needs a customised approach to their development. He also urged the Commission to consider the historical factors which did not allow the State to get its due benefits from its mineral resources.

State Government officials, in their presentation, highlighted the need to include the share of tribal population as well as the contribution of mining activities in the GSDP for horizontal devolution. They suggested the Commission to replace the revenue deficit grants with unconditional Basic Grants based on needs of the state and the ‘Development Deficit’.

The Chief Minister on behalf of the Government of Jharkhand submitted a detailed Memorandum to the Commission.The Chairman complemented the Govt. of Jharkhand for making an analytical presentation and stated that the issues raised would receive appropriate, balanced and rational consideration during deliberations in the Commission.

The Finance Commission, which is on a 3 day visit to Jharkhand, also sought views of the leaders from various political parties and local bodies. Representatives of Rural Local bodies submitted a Joint Memorandum on behalf of all the Panchayats.

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