Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday lashed out at the Centre’s “proposed move to further slash states’ share in the Divisible Pool of Revenue”.
He reiterated SAD’s demand that the states’ share in this pool must be raised to 50% at the very least.
The Akali leader also called for “a national initiative to protect the federal structure of the country”. He added that time has come for a nationwide awareness and movement for securing greater fiscal autonomy for all states. This is the only long-term solution to the Centre’s growing hegemony, which in fact is working against our national interest”.
“Strong states mean a strong India, just as strong limbs mean a strong body. You cannot weaken legs and arms or heart and lungs and still claim that the body as a whole would remain strong. Those at the helm at the Centre need to understand this,” Sukhbir said in a written statement, which also read that “Shiromani Akali Dal has always been a votary of more powers to the states and has made huge sacrifices for this cause”.
He also stressed the need for revisiting the formulae for the horizontal allocation of funds among various states.
“It is unfortunate that the federal structure of the country has been under constant attacks from successive governments at the Centre. Unfortunately, the present government is no exception. The states have already been reduced to the status of beggars at the Centre’s door. The latest reported move is only one more step to impoverish them further and to make them complete slaves before the Centre,” Sukhbir said.
He said that “the Centre has been usurping the states’ resources by using the backdoor channels such as the subtle and frequent shifting of issues from the States’ to the Concurrent List. Further, the Centre has been taking a frequent resort to legislating on the Concurrent List to leave little breathing space for the States. All this has reduced the federal structure of the country to a mere joke.”
Scoffing at “the reason being advanced to justify the latest move at reducing states’ share in the revenue pool”, Sukhbir said “Giving Covid-19 as the reason for Centre’s increased liability is ridiculous. The real burden of dealing with the virus is upon the states as health is a state subject. The states have had to cope with immense additional stress on their health services because of this virus. If anyone needs more funds to deal with the virus, it is the states.”
The Akali leader said that “the states’ share in this revenue is already meagre considering how much they contribute to this revenue and how vast their liabilities and development needs are. The states’ share must be increased to more than 50%.”
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