This blog is meant for use by members of the Association for news and views. Send comments / suggestions / views to e-mail Id:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

PM Narendra Modi pitches for advancing financial year to January-December

After advancing the budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have set the ball rolling on another crucial reform – changing the financial year to January-December. He asked states to take initiatives on the proposal, which has already seen several suggestions. Modi also told the states to seriously consider governance issues that are holding back speedier development and to speed up capital expenditure and infrastructure creation to lift growth. 

“He said that there have been suggestions to have the financial year from January to December. He urged states to take the initiative in this regard,” according to an official statement released after the Niti Aayog Governing Council meeting. 

A panel headed by Shankar Acharya, former chief economic advisor, to examine changing the financial year, has already submitted its report to the government. India follows April-March as the financial year, while globally the calendar year is the financial year. 

“Good governance leads to optimum utilisation of resources even when resources are less than desired,” said Modi, who is the chairman of the Niti Aayog. 

Reiterating that a constructive discussion has begun on the subject of holding Union and state elections simultaneously, Modi said, “India had for long suffered from economic and political mismanagement as a result of which many good initiatives and schemes had failed to deliver the anticipated results.” 

The third meeting of the governing council at the Rashtrapati Bhavan was attended by chief ministers of 27 states. They included chief minsters of non-BJP ruled states such as Punjab, Bihar, Karnataka and Tripura. 

Consensus on GST Lauded 
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal skipped the meeting. Kejriwal was represented by Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. 

Reiterating that there had been a 40% increase in overall fund allocation to states between 2014-15 and 2016-17, Modi urged states to speed up capital expenditure and infrastructure creation. He acknowledged the contribution of states in pushing the country’s most comprehensive indirect taxation reform – the Goods and Services Tax – keeping ideological and political differences aside. “GST reflects the spirit of ‘one nation, one aspiration, one determination’… Consensus on GST will go down in history as a great illustration of cooperative federalism,” Modi said, reiterating that the legislative arrangements at the state-level for GST should be put in place without delay. While delivering the opening remarks, the Prime Minister said that “Team India” has once again assembled to discuss and reflect on ways to prepare the country for changing global trends. “Vision of ‘New India’ can only be realised through the combined effort and cooperation of all states and their chief ministers,” Modi said, according to the official statement. He urged all stakeholders to decide goals for 2022 and work in mission mode towards achieving them. 

Hailing the initiatives of the Aayog over the past two years, Modi said the think tank’s long, medium and short-term action plans would benefit all states. “Niti Aayog is working on a 15-year long-term vision, seven-year medium term strategy and three-year action agenda,” he told the meeting, which was also attended by Union ministers and senior officials. Modi sought remarks from all chief ministers on a draft action plan unveiled by the Aayog. Speaking of the historic change in the budget presentation date to February 1 from February 28, the Prime Minister said this would enable timely availability of funds at the beginning of the financial year. Stating that in a country where agriculture income is exceedingly important, budgets should be prepared immediately after the receipt of agriculture income for the year. 

The Rangarajan Committee in 2011 had found several important items of expenditure included as ‘non-plan’ and hence neglected. “Hereafter the emphasis would be on distinguishing between development and welfare expenditure on one hand, and administrative overheads on the other,” he said, explaining the rationale behind doing away with the distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure. 

Modi noted that the theme of regional imbalance was raised by many chief ministers. “He agreed that this has to be addressed on priority, both nationally, and within states,” according to the official statement. 

He urged all states to take interest in the students of J&K after the issue was raised by the state’s chief minister. Noting the invitation from the J&K chief minister, Modi urged states to organise events there. Modi called upon states to use the government e-marketplace (GeM) to reduce corruption and increase transparency in procurement. He reiterated that the use of BHIM and Aadhaar would result in significant savings for states.

Source:-The Economic Times

No comments: