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Last Updated : Oct 03, 2018 10:50 PM IST | Source: PTI

Don't have mandate to give special category status: Finance commission chairman N K Singh

Addressing a press conference, commission chairman N K Singh acknowledged that the case for special status was made "forcefully and brilliantly" by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar earlier in the day.

The 15th Finance Commission made it clear on that it did not have the mandate to recommend grant of special category status (SCS) to states but assured that its recommendations would be "sympathetic and positive" as far as the needs of Bihar were concerned.

Addressing a press conference, commission chairman N K Singh acknowledged that the case for special status was made "forcefully and brilliantly" by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar earlier in the day.

When asked whether he still stood by his earlier advocacy of grant of SCS to Bihar, the former Rajya Sabha member from JD(U) quota said the matter required "a separate study by an independent entity".

"I wish to clear the misgivings that surround the commission's role in grant of special category status to states. Making such a recommendation does not fall in the ambit of our constitutional mandate. No state has ever been granted special category status based on the recommendations of the Finance Commission", Singh said.

"In fact, the now abolished Planning Commission too did not have a role to play in grant of special category status. States have been granted such a status on the basis of the recommendations of the National Development Council. Assam was the first state to have got the status and many more have been granted the same over the years.

"At present, there are demands from many states for grant of special category status, including Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. The latter was promised special status upon its bifurcation by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh", he pointed out.

Earlier in the day, reports emerged in some sections of the media that all parties, except the BJP which shares power with the JD(U), had supported the demand for special category status. Reacting to the reports, Singh said, "In Bihar, everybody we met endorsed the SCS demand."

Singh, who hails from the state, has had an illustrious career as a Bihar-cadre IAS officer. "The progress made by the state in the last decade has been not just satisfactory but fantastic and laudable," Singh said.

"The state's growth rate is considerably higher than the national average. Yet, there are a number of indices, including human development index, in which despite remarkable improvement the state lags behind. We have received a very well-argued representation from the state government and we can assure that the state's needs would be addressed in a manner that is sympathetic and positive", he said.

Singh, who was accompanied by other 15th Finance Commission members -- Shashikant Das, Anoop Singh and Ashok Lahiri, said, "Bihar happens to be the eleventh state in the country to have been toured by us. We plan to cover all the 29 states by February or March of next year so that we can meet the deadline of October, 2019 for submitting our recommendations".
First Published on Oct 3, 2018 10:39 pm
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