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Centre blamed for poverty

Bhubaneswar, April 1: Finance minister Prafulla Ghadei blamed the Centre for the backwardness of the state and sought adequate central assistance to correct the imbalance.

Speaking during the debate on the appropriation bill for 2007-08 in the Assembly last night, Ghadei said the flow of central funds to Orissa — which has been identified as the poorest state — was too meagre to tackle its backwardness.

Alleging that the UPA government has been adopting a “step-motherly attitude” towards Orissa, he said the flow of special grants to the state was far lesser than those to states likes Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. “The economic development of this backward state would be possible if the Centre pumps in adequate funds,” said the minister.

During the debate on vote-on-account on Friday night Ghadei had claimed that the state had lost around Rs 88,600 crore due to “faulty recommendations” of the Finance Commission. The state had been incurring huge losses due to non-revision of coal royalty and fewer shares of central taxes, he said.

Referring to the undivided Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi districts — a significant poverty zone in India — the minister said the Centre had from 2007-08 reduced central assistance from Rs 250 crore per annum to Rs 130 crore.

Ghadei demanded more central funds for Orissa’s overall and uniform development.

Highlighting the achievements of the state government on the financial front, he claimed that the government was able to achieve revenue surplus after 22 years.

The state’s revenue had gone up from Rs 1,755 crore in 1995-96 to Rs 6,534 crore in 2005-06.

Similarly, the plan expenditure had increased. Not only has the government been able to spend more plan funds, the submission of utilisation certificates has improved significantly. Utilisation certificates worth Rs 2,815 crore have been submitted by various departments during 2004-05, as against a meagre Rs 500 crore in 1999-2000, said the minister.

Earlier, the Opposition members had ridiculed the government for its revenue surplus claim. “The state government is trying to take credit of achieving revenue surplus by reducing expenditure on developmental activities,” said J.B. Patnaik.

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