Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Financial liability

In the binary of Centre-State relationships, especially financial arrangements, the Centre has a bounden responsibility to provide funds to each State irrespective of its magnitude and level of income and expenditure. In public finance, reasonably increasing expenditure is a sign of a growing economy. If zero deficit budgets are prepared no new models of economic development can be devised and a State becomes standstill lagging behind the advancing states. Browsing through the past years, Nagaland has a large financial liability. The continuous debt has led the State to be in a deriding position. The Centre has a wide and fertile base of tax and non-tax revenues comprising customs, income tax, corporation tax, gift tax, capital gains, tax on foreign travel, interest receipts, surplus profits from reserve bank of India, currency/coinage/mint charges, railways, profit of public enterprises, etc. The commoners having some knowledge of the nitty-gritty of State-Centre working know that in a democratic/ federal set up of governments there is not much difference between State and the Centre. Most of the functions are analogous save in case of Ministries of Foreign/Defence Affairs, Telecommunication, heads of State that is Prime Minister and the President, some major research & development industries including exploration and tapping of underground wealth. With this set of governance mechanism, any Centre enjoying full powers and control over currency/coinage and mint has funds available sufficient enough to help states through the medium of yearly financial statements besides carrying on its own programmes at national level. States are wheels to a centre. Strong the wheels stronger the Centre, prosperous the country, happier the people. Today Nagaland is being reproached for bulging salary/pensions bills expenditure held mainly responsible for the swollen liability when other side of the coin is overlooked. Nagaland having no industrial base due to inefficient and insufficient electricity, Government jobs remain a Hobson’s choice for the youth hungry and thirsty of employment. This leads to steep rise in the salary and pension bills and the administrative costs. Moreover, effect of structure of revised pay, allowances and other perks to officials has also been an additive, burgeoning the burden of liability. Load shedding almost all year round aggravated with the pesky cuts and outages during the scheduled electricity hours hampers the process of industrialisation. That is why the industrial estates established by the Government are non functional, as spaces allotted by the Government there at nominal charges and the entrepreneurs botoxed by the number of doses of subsidies, tax remissions, refunds, exemption of freight charges, providing subsidy on purchase and installation of plant and machinery and installation of pollution control devices, capital investment subsidy, toll tax exemption on import of raw material, plant and machinery, building material, etc, fail to convalesce and start. This leads to meager and feeble tax and the non-tax revenue bases increasing more dependence of the State on Centre to augment the liquidity position. On the trade and commerce side, there are literally no exports from the State, as we cannot even produce enough for local consumption. It is a fact that Nagaland has sufficient natural perennial water resources. It is mentioned to have huge hydro power potential of which not even one-third has been exploited till date. If this could be exploited, perhaps our power position will improve drastically, and in turn revenues will be generated through its multiplying effect, besides also saving the State’s huge electricity bill. The thing is if we have sufficient electricity, good roads and other infrastructures, the wheels of industry will start to spin indubitably filling the State’s kitty besides the industrialists. Under such circumstance nobody will have any chance and guts to jeer at Nagaland as holding a begging bowl always in its hands but as an entity at least free of such debts. Above all story of weak and strong is a history of nature no one can alter and a touchstone for people to test their spirit of humanity. As people differ in body mass, colour, height, qualities and strength so are the states. Had there been equality and uniformity in financial and physical strengths there would have been no national consolidated fund also. Besides as per national statistics we have good indicators of per capita income/wealth. The need is of distribution now. If there is a will there is definitely a way. Pray will and the way mature soon.