By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, April 13, 2018: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday expressed concern over the Terms of Reference (ToR) stipulated by the Centre in the 15th Finance Commission for devolution of funds to states and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi    seeking his intervention in the matter.

Patnaik on Friday dashed off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission will adversely affect the states like Odisha.

“The Presidential order dated 27th November, 2017 on constitution and Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission has made significant departures from the Terms of Reference of previous Finance Commissions, which may have adverse impact on horizontal devolution for Odisha as well as vertical devolution for states,” Mr Patnaik wrote.

He alleged that Odisha’s suggestions during the consultations prior to the notification of the ToR appear to have been ignored.

The CM tried to bring several issues into notice of Mr Modi on amending the ToR in 15th Finance Commission.

“On vertical devolution, the Terms of Reference seek to put fetters on the permit of the Commission. Instead of giving the freedom to the Commission to arrive at its recommendations on resource sharing between the Centre and States based on the respective needs and after due consultations, there are leading suggestions in the ToR indicating the overriding priorities and concerns of the Union Government,” he wrote.

“On horizontal devolution, the Terms of Reference make a radical departure by mandating the Commission to use population data of 2011 while making its recommendations,” he said.

Population criterion is a very important factor in determination of share of a State in the divisible pool. In order to encourage the States to stabilize population, successive National Population Policy Statements have taken 1971 Census population level as the basis for devolution, Grant-in-aid as well as other incentives. Even the number of representatives in the Lok Sabha (on basis of the population) has been frozen at 1971 Census level through successive Constitutional amendments, the last being the 84th Constitutional amendment whereby the freeze was extended until 2026.

Patnaik said that the ToR in the 15th Finance Commission asking the use of 2011 Census data is contrary to National Population Policy Statements and the assurances to States that have actively implemented population stabilization measures.

“It will have a huge adverse impact on our share in devolution as Odisha is already below the Population Replacement Rate of 2.1 indicating that we have stablised our population,” the CM wrote in the letter.

Mr Patnaik demanded that the population data of 1971 Census should be used by the 15th Finance Commission while making its recommendations.

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