Waiting for Andhra's Response: Arun Jaitley

Waiting for Andhra's Response: Arun Jaitley

After a step-by-step pressure from seasoned politician Chandrababu Naidu who finally quit NDA and moved No Confidence Motion, the BJP-led Union Government is baffled completely given the massive support to TDP's move from political parties cutting across regions.

Arun Jaitley has now changed his voice and 'softened' his voice on AP. He says that Centre is ready to deliver Special Package to AP instead of Special Category Status, he has thrown ball in the court of AP state government. Jaitley reiterated that the special package will be equivalent to a special category state. However, Jaitley has shockingly said that the Centre has been "endlessly waiting" for the State on the mechanism of receiving it. These remarks from an experienced politician, finance minister are evoking laughs across country that how Centre can't find a way to transfer funds to State?

What's more? Jaitley claimed that the AP state government has suggested a change in route of receiving funds only in Jan 2018 to which the Centre agreed but "not heard" from AP since then.

At a time Chandrababu Naidu has visited 29 times to Delhi and denied appointments repeatedly and his MPs, then Union Ministers are in discussion with Union Government on day-to-day basis, Jaitley's fresh remarks clearly indicate that the Centre has bowed down to pressure, however, it is acting as if it is ready to give but the state is not ready to take.

"A solution has been put on the table. It is for Andhra Pradesh to decide whether they want the resources or they want to make an issue (out of it)," Jaitley claimed. Jaitley, however, said the Centre has been fully committed to giving the promised funds to the state and there has been no delay on its part. He said the so-called special category status cannot be given to Andhra Pradesh in its literal sense after implementation of the award of 14th Finance Commission, which deals with sharing of central government's financial resources with the states.

The constitutionally-mandated Commission gave increased share of states fund in central taxes to 42 per cent from 32 per cent previously and meeting revenue deficit in case any state needs to be extraordinarily compensated. The minister said a special category state gets to pay just 10 per cent share of the money to be spent on a centrally sponsored scheme in comparison to general category states having to pay 40 per cent. The remaining 90 per cent in case of special category states and 60 per cent in general category states is borne by the Centre. The 30 per cent equivalent advantage that the special category states had was agreed to be given to Andhra Pradesh for five years.

"We found a solution on September 16, 2016 that instead of a special category, we will give a special package," he said adding the funds equivalent to 30 per cent additional funding was to be met in some other form. Andhra Pradesh, he said, suggested that this should come to it in form of external aided projects wherein the repayment is 90 per cent borne by the Centre and 10 per cent by the state. "We agreed," he said.

But in January this year, Andhra Pradesh changed its stance and said it should come via NABARD, Jaitley said adding the Centre told the state that such funding would increase its fiscal deficit and restrict borrowing space. So it was suggested that a special purpose vehicle be created into which NABARD can transfer funds. The Centre would have repaid such funds to the extent of 90 per cent, he said."On February 7 their officers said they will find out the details and come. No one has come till now," he said."We have been literally waiting for them to come."

On the whole, Arun Jaitley's fresh interview clearly shows how the Centre has bowed down to pressure of Naidu. But it needs to be seen how Naidu would use this to the benefit of the State.