NITI Aayog has not played much expected role of facilitator: Pinarayi Vijayan

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan June 15 said that NITI Aayog has not “played the much expected role of a facilitator” in the last four years and perhaps was not a substitute for the erstwhile Planning Commission.

Vijayan,in his speech at the 5th Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog here, said that after doing away with the plans at the national level, states have lost the Gadgil formula, grants which they used to get asplan assistance earlier.

Besides, states now have also to bear a higher share — 40 per cent –instead of the earlier average 25 per cent in many centrally sponsored schemes, resulting in shrinking the State governments’ fiscal space, he said.

He said transformation of the Planning Commission to NITI Aayog has adversely affected states like Kerala, which had lost a source of funding forits Five Year Plans.

“I hope that my colleague Chief Ministers would agree with me that NITI Aayog in the present form has not played the much expected role of a facilitator in the last four years.

There is growing realisation that it is perhaps not a substitute for the erstwhile Planning Commission,” he said.

Vijayan said Kerala wascontinuing with the Five Year Plans and implementing many development programmesthrough its Thirteenth Five Year Plan.

He said the centre has recently been spending onsubjects in the State List, resulting incentralisation in design of welfare schemes,which by economic reasoning, could be effectivelydone by governments at the State and locallevel.

“For astrong nation, a strong Centre, strong states and vibrant local governments are essential pre-requisites.”

He said the foremost aim to fulfill people’s aspirations was decentralisationof power to them as mandated in constitutional amendments.

Vijayan said “incursions” into areas of legislative competence of state governments enshrined in the Constitution would weaken the federal system and make cooperative federalism lose its content, as well as its spirit.

Vijayan opposed the move for Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee(APMC) Actand said the “exploitative conditions”will worsen in all probability.

He said states have their own legislation on reforming agricultural producemarketing as it’s an item in the State List of theSeventh Schedule of the Constitution.

He said Kerala has noAPMC Act and the focus of the draft model act was on bringing incorporate farming and putting farmers in directcontact with corporate trading entities,with theexpectation that their income standards would improve.

“In a society with highly unequal bargainingpowers and monopoly power, these corporateentities would have the exploitative conditionswill worsen in all probability.

Our State hasdemonstrated that through peoples’ participation,intervention of the cooperative movement and thegovernment, procurement of agricultural produceat fair prices is possible.

We have taken effectivesteps in paddy procurement by ensuringremunerative prices for farmers,” Vijayan said.

On Left Wing Extremism (LWE),he said the security appartus needs to be vigilant and curbany kind of extremism and terrorism threateningthe peace and security of common people.

“Regarding left wing extremism, it is our statedposition that attention and focus has to be on thealleviation of conditions of deprivation andmarginalisation in society.

At the same time,the security apparatus needs to be vigilant and curbany kind of extremism and terrorism threateningthe peace and security of common people.

Government of Kerala is addressing these twinconcerns with equal importance,” Vijayan said.

He said the Kerala government felt states should be able to perform theirconstitutionally assigned developmental roleeffectively.

“Kerala has the recent experience of not being ableto avail of assistance after the devastating floodsof 2018 because of the rigid fiscal constraintsbeing followed without the needed flexibility.

Thegravity of this can be realised only whenconsidered against the fact that the State suffereddamage amounting to Rs 31,000 crore, which isapproximately 4 per cent of its Gross StateDomestic Product,” He said.