Finance Commission does a u-turn, praises Maharashtra government

It took just three days for the 15th Finance Commission to change its opinion about Maharashtra’s Financial Condition. While taking a sharp U-turn on the financial situation, Chairman of the Finance Commission NK Singh lauded the financial discipline of the state as ideal.

Just before its two-day visit to Maharashtra, the Press Information Bureau had issued a press note that raised questions about the state’s financial condition. The note said the state seemed to have faltered in translating its high economic growth into commensurate human development. The commission had also pointed out at regional disparities calling it as a characteristic feature of the state since its inception.

“A revenue deficit of 0.5 per cent to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) continues to be a worrisome factor for Maharashtra. This has increased even as the fiscal deficit to GSDP ratio has fallen. This indicates that debt is being used for revenue expenditure,” the note said.

But taking a u-turn on the stand, the Chairman of the Commission NK Singh said the inferences were drawn based on the numbers provided by the state’s Accountant General. “We don’t manufacture numbers,” Singh said.

Calling the growth of State as commendable Singh said, “In FY 2016-17, the revenue receipts were of Rs 2.04 lakh crores ,which increased to Rs 2.43 lakh crores in FY 2017-18. Whereas in the same period, growth figures in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat’s were down. But Maharashtra’s revenue growth was up at 13.80 per cent in 2017-18 from 11.05 per cent in 2016-17.”

The U-turn by the Commission comes as a sigh of relief for the Maharashtra government that was targeted by the opposition over the commission’s note. “The figures that were considered were based on comparisons that did not consider the figures of 2017-18. But, we are happy that after meeting us, the commission not only considered our logic, but also lauded our efforts,” said Sudhir Mungantiwar, Finance Minister of Maharashtra.