He said it is the Finance Commission which decides the grants for different states out of the consolidated fund of India. “So it is not correct to say that state’s dependence on Central Assistance is increasing.”
In his exhaustive one-and-a-half-hour reply to the general discussion on the budget in the legislative assembly today, Rather said that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in the Draft Report on State Finances for the year ending 31.03.2012 has appreciated the financial achievements of the J&K state.
Quoting the CAG report, he said the State has made good use of the opportunities presented by the increased economic activities to substantially increase tax revenues. “There has been a record mobilization of commercial taxes and stamp duties in 2011-12, and the State’s own revenues have shown a very high growth. It is to the credit of the Government that the State’s dependence on non-debt resources from the Central Government (as percentage of total expenditure) has come down from 67% in 2006-07 to 63% in 2011-12.
The CAG has said that even as concerns remained about delay in completion of ongoing projects, the State Government’s capital expenditure has registered significant and steady increase.
“Likewise, it has appreciated the State’s for its switchover to Government Banking with RBI with effect from 01.04.2011 after liquidating its entire overdraft with J&K Bank as on 31.03.2011 with Special Central Assistance in the form of Grant-in-aid of Rs. 1000 Crore,” he said.
During 2011-12, the interest burden on overdraft/ways and means advances came down by over Rs. 220 crore as a result of this switchover to new banking arrangement. Report has also patted the State for taking significant decisions like introduction of National Pension Scheme (NPS) bringing more items under the ambit of VAT, some services under tax net, computerization of Commercial Taxes Department to be completed by 2013 and a host of other institutional and sectoral reform measures. The arrears in the accounts of PSUs are being liquidated, he said.
Giving detail about the measures to revamp the powers system in the State, Rather said that a new hydle policy has been announced in 2011 to facilitate construction of new power projects and contain Transmission and Distribution losses.
He said a whooping sum of Rs. 3,875 crore has been spent to purchase power this year against a revenue of Rs. 1460 crore thereby causing losses to the tune of Rs. 2400 crore.
About employment, Rather said that the government is committed to provide over 70,000 - 80,000 jobs in Government sector during next two years adding that around 50,000 youth were recruited in the State during last four years.
He said government jobs alone cannot solve the problems of unemployment as the volume of educated unemployed youth is very huge. He said government announced SKWEPY, Seed Capital Fund scheme, Youth Start up Loan Scheme, UDAAN and Himayat schemes to train the youth so that they are able to put up their own income generating units.
Responding to the demands of most members, the Finance Minister announced to raise the honorarium of Panchs from Rs. 300 per sitting to Rs. 1000 per month. He said the rate of honorarium proposed for the Sarpanchs and Panchs of the State is highest as compared to the neighbouring States.
Responding to the demands of the members, Rather announced that government has almost made the agriculture sector tax free. He said it was imperative to develop infrastructure for the post-harvest management of fruit so that it reaches to the terminal Mandis in fresh condition and with original flavour.
He gave out figures to assert that Agriculture Sector has grown by 11.66% in current year (at current prices and 3.84% at constant prices and that its growth is better than the growth rate of last year.
As many as 32 members participated in the discussion and gave their valuable suggestion to make it more growth oriented.