With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget is expected to be a game changer, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh in an interview with Liz Mathew says that any additional funds given to the state will be used to stimulate growth. Excerpts from the interview:
What are your expectations from the upcoming Union Budget? What are the priorities in your demands for inclusion in the budget?
The state and the Central Government are in complete alignment with prime minister Shri Narendra Modi’s short, medium and long term goals. These include Swachh Bharat, Skill Development, Make in India, Digital India, and others.
There were some reports which suggested that the Central government may do away with the distinction between plan and non plan allocations. If it happens, how will it affect the state?
Chhattisgarh has for long been demanding this. Distinction between plan and non-plan is symbolic and devoid of any logic. Doing away with this distinction will bring the focus back on ensuring that existing initiatives are better funded and implemented.
If a higher percentage of Central revenue is distributed to the states will you use the funds for fiscal consolidation or for initiating programs that stimulate growth?
Chhattisgarh had 2.8 per cent fiscal deficit in 2014-15, and its public debt is the lowest in India. We are committed to responsibly using additional resources to stimulate growth and inclusive development.
What are your specific reservations on GST?
We welcome the GST. As a state, Chhattisgarh contributes very significantly to the national economy as a core sector producer. Therefore, we would like to see suitable mechanism to compensate such producer states for the loss of revenue.
Do you think there should be dedicated funds for Adarsh Gram Yojana?
Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) has sizeable funds. In addition, in Chhattisgarh we are converging resources from state schemes to achieve the goals of Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.
With the government unlikely to increase the health budget substantially, how do you propose to raise resources for rural health sector?
India is committed to the global goal of Health for All and the Millennium Development Goals for health and other social sectors. While significant progress has been made, much remains to be done to achieve these goals. Experts suggest that countries should spend 2 per cent to 3 per cent of their budget on healthcare, although the Centre and the states currently spend half of this. Both the Centre and the states need to work together to achieve our health goals.