Inaugurating an international conference on “Cooperative Federalism: National Perspectives and International Experience” in New Delhi Wednesday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh called for a roadmap for Centre and states to work together for “realisation of the goal of faster economic growth coupled with distributive justice”.
Stating that reaching this goal “is not possible unless we work together in a spirit of co-operation,” he spoke of “need to strengthen institutions and mechanisms that will enable better Centre-State relations.”
Speaking of the “government’s abiding faith in cooperative federalism,” Singh cited the urgency placed by the current government for implementing Goods and Services Tax. “It will have far reaching implications and will help unify the whole country as a market and lead to uniformity in taxes on goods and services.”
Inter-governmental agencies like Inter State Council, Zonal Councils, National Development Council, NITI Aayog, Governors’ Conference and Chief Ministers’ Conference “are playing a vital role in the harmonious working of a federal structure”, Singh said.
He said the Centre had taken important policy initiatives to strengthen the spirit of cooperative federalism, foremost among them being increase in the share of divisible tax-pool from 32 per cent to 42 per cent, as per recommendations of 14th Finance Commission. He also spoke of the raise in non-statutory share from 21 per cent to 26 per cent and about 57.6 per cent of gross tax receipts to be transferred to the states.
“These imply that more than half of the total receipts, including non-tax receipts, of Union government will be transferred to states. Larger transfers to states are accompanied by significant reduction in central schemes and rationalisation of remaining schemes to give greater flexibility and control to states,” he added.
Citing establishment of NITI Aayog, he said: “Inclusion of the CMs…and their regular interactions with Union government for policy formulation would help better facilitate Union-State policy coordination and coherence in formulation of schemes,” he said
He said successful completion of zonal council meetings, including meeting of CMs of Northeastern states last year and reconstitution of Inter-State Council in December showed the Centre’s faith in cooperative federalism.
Singh said India has unity in diversity, which is duly substantiated by successful running of its cohesive federal structure. Singh said federalism is not new to India. “Though in its primitive form, ancient kingdoms established this system to rule vast tracts,” he said. He added that architects of the Constitution had blended best features of important types of federation and given India a “union model of federalism”.
Experts from Australia, Ethiopia, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa and Canada will participate in the conference.