The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has today given its approval to Recommendations on Fiscal Deficit Targets and Additional Fiscal Deficit to States during Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) award period 2015-20.
The Finance Commission is required to recommend the distribution of the net proceeds of taxes of the Union between the Union and the States (commonly referred to as vertical devolution); and the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds (commonly known as horizontal devolution).
With regard to vertical distribution, FFC has recommended by majority decision that the the States’ share in the net proceeds of the Union tax revenues be 42%. The recommendation of tax devolution at 42% is a huge jump from the 32% recommended by the 13th Finance Commission. The transfers to the States will see a quantum jump. This is the largest ever change in the percentage of devolution. In the past, when Finance Commissions have recommended an increase, it has been in the range of 1-2% increase. As compared to the total devolutions in 2014-15 the total devolution of the States in 2015-16 will increase by over 45%.
The consequence of this much greater devolution to the States is that the fiscal space for the Centre will reduce in the same proportion. As recorded in Chapter-8 of FFC’s Report, amongst other demands of the States, the States had demanded both an increase in share of tax devolution, and a reduced role of CSS.
FFC has taken the view that tax devolution should be primary route of transfer of resources to States. It may be noted that in reckoning the requirements of the States, the FFC has ignored the Plan and Non-Plan distinction; it sees the enhanced devolution of the divisible pool of taxes as a “compositional shift in transfers from grants to tax devolution” (Para 8.13 of FFC Report). Thus, basically the FFC Report expects the CSS, in fact Central assistance to State Plans as a whole, to reduce and be replaced by greater devolution of taxes.
Keeping in mind the spirit of cooperative federalism that has underpinned the creation of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI), the Government has accepted the recommendation of the FFC to keep the States’ share of Union Tax proceeds (net) at 42%.
In recommending horizontal distribution, the FFC has used broad parameters of population (1971) and changes of population since, income distance, forest cover and area.
The Finance Commission is also required to recommend on ‘the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State’.
FFC has recommended distribution of grants to States for local bodies using 2011 population data with weight of 90% and area with weight of 10%. The grants to States will be divided into two, a grant to duly constituted Gram Panchayats and a grant to duly constituted Municipal bodies, on the basis of rural and urban population.
FFC has recommended grants in two parts; a basic grant, and a performance grant, for duly constituted Gram Panchayats and municipalities. The ratio of basic to performance grant is 90:10 with respect to Panchayats and 80:20 with respect to Municipalities.
FFC has recommended out a total grant of Rs 2,87,436 crore for five year period from 1.4.2015 to 31.3.2020. Of this the grant recommended to Panchayatas is Rs 2,00,292.20 crores and that to municipalities is Rs 87,143.80 crores.
FFC has recommended that up to 10 percent of the funds available under the SDRF can be used by a State for occurrences which State considers to be ‘disasters’ within its local context and which are not in the notified list of disasters of the Ministry of Home Affairs.