Chief Minister Nitish Kumar once again geared up to bat for a special status for Bihar when the 15th Finance Commission team indicated that recommending a special category is not in their domain. CM Kumar met the visiting Fifteenth Finance Commission headed by NK Singh on Wednesday and said that the investment in Bihar is possible only if it gets special category status.
“Bihar is a landlocked state hence there are no industrial and trade investments here like the coastal states. Trade, industry, and investment are possible in the state only if it gets the special category status. It is not fair that the state has to spend its funds on Central-sponsored schemes,” said Nitish Kumar.
“The backward states face an acute lack of means. Distributing resources among them as it’s done among other states on the basis of equality and equalisation is not justified because it will lead to the backward states sliding further,” Nitish added.
At a closed-door meeting with the finance commission that lasted for around four hours, Nitish asked it to pay attention to the issue of not differentiating between categories of general and special states as paradoxically recommended by the previous panel.
Following his meeting with the Finance Commission team led by the commission’s chairperson, N K Singh, Nitish said, “The 14th Finance Commission had promised that there would not be any discrimination between general states and special category states. The 15th Finance Commission has to look into it. The commission has to see all practical constraints of Bihar and take a call,” said Nitish Kumar post his meeting with NK Singh.
CM Kumar made a point by saying that the population of Bihar was high due to historical and geographical reasons, including fertile land and a better environment. This has led to very high population density.
Nitish Kumar’s remarks are considered to be significant since the population is one of the criteria on the basis of which the finance commission makes the recommendations for devolution of funds among the states.
He also pointed to the need for more resources as the budget of the state has grown from Rs 30,000 crore in 2005 to Rs 1.8 lakh crore in 2018. He also pointed out that Bihar needed around Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 9,000 crore to achieve its aim of opening Plus 2 schools in all panchayats.