States should have greater say in development schemes: Nitish

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday accused the Centre of encroaching on states` autonomy in financial matters.

Updated: Jul 24, 2010, 14:30 PM IST

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday accused the Centre of encroaching on states` autonomy in financial matters and demanded a change in the
pattern of five year plans so that states have a greater say in implementing development schemes.

Kumar also demanded special category status for Bihar, citing its need for massive investment for development and reach the national per capita income level.

"In the financial pattern of the Plan, there is unfortunately a decline in the support to the State Plan...there is a growing tendency on the part of the Central government to start many ambitious populist schemes for which they wish to take credit at the expense of states by lowering the allocation to the sector.

"This represents an increased encroachment on the autonomy of states," Kumar said while attending the 55th meeting of the National Development Council chaired by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh here.

He said that the Gross Budgetary Support allocation for the state has come down from earlier 34 percent to just 23 percent in the 11th Plan while that for the Centre has
gone up from 66 to 77 percent.

He rued that schemes, which have far reaching impact for the state governments are very often announced without any meaningful prior consultation with states both inside and
outside the budget.

"Earlier discussions in the NDC have favoured a reduction in both the number and the allocation for centrally sponsored schemes. Far from this, we now see a reverse
tendency to the central sector to expand these schemes in multiple ways including through legislation," he alleged.

Terming these "contrary to spirit and intent enshrined in the Constitution and in the setting up of NDC, Kumar said," the NDC, which meets ceremoniously must become more purposeful..."

He said there is a need to devise a different approach now to address the Centre-state relations with the emergence and continuance of a coalition structure on governance as well as strong regional parties as the existing mechanisms for this purpose remain inadequate.

Highlighting the development needs of the state, Kumar said the state is still far behind in per capital income.

"We will need massive investment to reach even the national per capita income level. Therefore, to attract investment especially in agro-industries, it is essential that
Bihar be given the status of a special category state....I urge the NDC to support this demand," Kumar said.