FFC becomes Friendly Finance Commission for Nagaland

FFC becomes Friendly Finance Commission for Nagaland
FFC Chairman Nand Kishore Singh and Secretary Arvind Mehta during the press briefing at SC conference hall on November 28, 2018.

Asserts for a very positive, sympathy and innovative approach for fast track development

Kohima, November 28: The Fifteenth Finance Commission (FFC) has asserted to make a “very positive and sympathy and innovative approach to fast track the development of the economy of Nagaland”.
The assertion was made by the 8-member team of FFC led Chairman Nand Kishore Singh during a media briefing held at Chief Secretary’s conference hall here on Wednesday after holding series of closed door meetings with the State government led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, political parties, Naga civil societies, rural and urban local bodies, trade and commerce bodies of the State since yesterday.
“The people of Nagaland have immeasurable talent and they can make enormous difference not only to Nagaland but India’s economic development with the rich cultural diversity,” Singh said.
“We have had a very full and rich discussion with all stake holders in Nagaland while the state government presented a formal memorandum to the commission detailing their expectations from the award and recommendations of the FFC,” Singh said.
“We also had deliberations with Village Councils and Village Development Boards, tribal organizations, trade and commerce and all political parties and they made oral and written memorandum to the commission,” he said.
“From a broad spectrum, we were able to have very insulated interaction with all the stake holders in Nagaland,” said Singh.
He said that the Commission is impressed by the great strides which Nagaland has made on several important critical parameters including the indices of human resource development – the rate of literacy, infant and maternal mortality rates are significantly above the national average. In terms of per capita income too, it does not compare unfavourably.
The initiatives taken by successive government of Nagaland have enabled the comparative advantage of Nagaland to gather momentum, he said while citing the instance great strides in the area of Horticulture, which has a great scope in terms of organic farming, fruits, vegetables and agriculture productivity and also the Nagaland coffee tastes.
Fruits and other vegetables offer great opportunities for downstream development of those in terms of agro and agro based processing industries, he said.
He said that Commission is greatly impressed with the interactions with village council and VDBs and the state’s approach towards the communitisation of resources which is unique to Nagaland.
Stating the Commission recognises that 75% of Nagaland is under Forest with quite a large percentage in dense forest while most are moderate and open forest, he said this contributes greatly to the national carbon sync.
The contribution of Nagaland towards the environmental and ecological friendly approach towards reducing the fossil fuel footprint is commendable and needs to be recognized, he said.
The Chairman maintained that in order to clearly harness the advantage that Nagaland three important trust areas were brought forth which needs encouragement – one is improve connectivity, that is air, rail and road while the priorities of the government in this regard are appropriate and needs support.
He said that the state government has put forth four proposals which include the post devolution revenue deficit grants amounting to Rs 74,000 crore, on critical infrastructure development – Rs 7212 crore, Village Councils and Urban bodies – Rs 1700 crores and for Disaster Management – 1080 crore totaling to 86834 crore, in addition to the critical connectivity projects.
He said the state government has also requested for national institutes – particularly management, medical and engineering college to be able to harness the huge potential of the young population of Nagaland.
Expressing that Nagaland has certainly shown signs of improving GST realization, he said Nagaland’s own revenue as part of the overall expenditure needs this momentum to be sustained.
The award would be governing from 2020 to 2025 and improved GST performance and revenue realization would be greatly advantageous, he said.
He said that the issues on working of the power economy deserves priority action in Nagaland by bringing down transmission and distribution losses, improving billing cycle and collection, bridging the gap between the cost of purchase and sale needs to improved otherwise it can become major haemorrhaging in Nagaland’s economy.
He said that the Commission has encouraged the government to think greatly of renewable energy, particularly solar energy. “Nagaland needs to take advantage not only on hydel potential but take advantage of the enormous amount of the land and sunshine,” he said.
These are all areas which the FFC would like to support and encourage while finalizing their recommendations within the framework of the constitutional mandate, he said.
In terms of revenue deficit grants, he said the Commission wants to have a closer look at the figures and have asked for some more data from the government which will be possible by end of January 2019.
Similarly on the state’s specific grants, he said the issue of ULB would be sorted out by the cabinet committee for utilization of the awards of the 14th Finance Commission to lay foundation for the 15th FC awards to be utilized.
The commission, he said “is going back sanguine and enthused by initiatives of the state government and by the development metrics which currently on the go”.
“We believe that the developmental initiatives have high priority and deserve the fullest encouragement and support. It will be the endeavour of this FCC to encourage and fully support the innovative measures which are currently underway to accelerate the growth momentum of the Nagaland’s economy which can improve the per capita income more significantly and enable in harnessing its multiple competitive factors that Nagaland has,” he said.
He expressed hope that the slogan of the government “Peace for development and development for peace” does not remain a mere slogan but has to be translated into action.
“We are exceedingly sympathetic to the needs, requirement and compulsions, the opportunities and challenges of Nagaland,” he asserted, while adding that “the demands are there and we have had discussions and we will have further consultations within the Commission and see the totality of the demands in the lights of the supplementary before coming to conclusions and firming our recommendations for Nagaland.
On the lighter vein, Singh said Nagaland happens to be the 14th state the FFC has visited and this FFC for Nagaland is a different kind of Commission as first letter in FFC has been changed to ‘Friendly’ to coined as “Friendly Finance Commission to Nagaland”. He also said that the FCC is delighted to celebrate its first anniversary in Nagaland.
The FFC chairman was also appreciative of the unique cultural event, presented by the state government stating that it was an extraordinary feast of the cultural diversity, talent and heterogeneity of the Nagaland society. “We were greatly enriched with such presentations and it is heartening to see the great unity in diversity of Naga society,” he added.
FFC secretary, Arvind Mehta said one of the main economic earners of the state is going to be the tourism activities and they have the unique ability that they are planning to get into the e-commerce sites for economic multiplier.
On Thursday, they will make a field visit to Touphema Tourist Village in the morning and then proceed to Imphal in Manipur state by helicopters. (Page News Service)