New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday that the government was committed to giving the monetary equivalent to special status to Andhra Pradesh.
"What is the implication of special status? The special status used to be originally granted to states in the Northeast because they have their own resources that were inadequate. One of the promises was that Andhra Pradesh should be given special status. Provision for revenue deficit in case of Andhra Pradesh as per Finance Commission already made. In most of the schemes of special status, 60% is funded by Centre and 40% by the state. Special category status means that you get a 90-10 advantage, not 60-40. There has to be to a basis to calculate financial deficit," he said, addressing the press.
"Andhra Pradesh was unwilling and Telangana wanted the division. Andhra was suffering in terms of resources. Therefore some help had to be given to AP. So one of the promises was, AP should be given special category status. At that time, special category state concept did exist. But, according to 14th Finance Commission, there is no special category status now to be given," Jaitley pointed out.
"I know Andhra has suffered because of bifurcation. Whatever is monetary equivalent of special status will be given to Andhra by the Centre. Whatever is mentioned in the act, the Centre is willing to fullfill. We are willing to satisfy every condition. The only variation is that after Finance Commission report instead of formally calling it a special category state, we are calling it a special package, which gives same monetary benefits that a special category state gives you. Sentiment does not decide the quantum of funds. Centre has repeatedly said that we are ready to give it," Jaitley emphasised.
"Revenue deficit is for only ten months period. Tax concessions were already given in the first two years," he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had indicated that the Telugu Desam would take a "right decision at the right time", amid speculation that the party may pull out of the Narendra Modi government.
Naidu had lashed out at the Centre saying it was "insulting the sentiments" of the people of the state by not honouring the promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 and also in Parliament.
"I know what is in your hearts and also the people's hearts. There is no compromise in protecting the state's interests. Let us bear whatever difficulty, but we will take a right decision at the right time," the CM had told his party MPs during a teleconference, as per PTI.
The TDP chief warned the Centre that it would not bode well if people's sentiments were ignored. "We have to stand by the people and step up our fight to fulfil their aspirations. We are not asking for anything more than that is enshrined in the Reorganisation Act," he had pointed out.
Naidu had expressed displeasure over reports that the Centre was not ready to concede the state's demands, particularly the grant of special category status and bridging the revenue deficit (for 2014-15 fiscal).
(With PTI inputs)