FM Jaitley seeks clarity on state govt's revenue deficit claim

VIJAYAWADA: The state government’s hopes of getting funds from the Centre to fill the revenue deficit it is facing since bifurcation seem to have dimmed with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asserting that there was difference between the figures submitted by the state and the estimation made by the Centre. 
The Union government has promised to keep the commitment made in the AP Reorganisation Act to make up the revenue deficit faced by Andhra Pradesh.  

When a delegation of BJP leaders from Andhra Pradesh led by party’s state unit president K Haribabu called on Jaitley in New Delhi on Wednesday and appealed to him to release the funds for construction of the Polavaram project, implement the special package announced by the Centre in lieu of special category status and also fill the revenue deficit, the Union minister said that the Centre would keep its word. 
But at the same time he said there was a difference between the amount quoted by the state and the estimation of deficit made by the Centre.

“There is a deficit. There are differences in the calculations done by the state and the Centre. We will discuss and solve it as soon as possible,” Jaitley is learnt to have told the BJP delegation while assuring all help from the Centre for completion of Polavaram and implementation of the special package.

The remarks made by Arun Jaitley about lack of clarity on revenue deficit irked officials of the state government. AP State Planning Board vice-chairman C Kutumba Rao denied cooking up revenue deficit figures. He said that it was calculated during the governor’s rule in 2014 and not by the state government.
Insisting that the Centre should make up the deficit, he urged Jaitley to discuss the difference in the figures openly.

Rajamahendravaram MLA Akula Satyanarayana, who was part of the delegation, said that the BJP government was ready to implement the AP Reorganisation Act and hence allotted more funds to AP than to other states. He urged the state government to clear the doubts raised by the Centre over revenue deficit.
As per the estimations of the state government, the Centre has to pay `12,000 crore to fill up the revenue deficit as promised in the AP State Reorganisation Act. After estimating revenue deficit at about `16,000 crore for the first year after the state bifurcation, the Centre has so far released `4,000 crore. However, in the subsequent years with the Centre raising doubts over the revenue deficit and seeking clarity from the state, the government decided to settle for `7,000 crore.

An official of the finance department said that though they had to get `12,000 crore for filling the revenue deficit, they were expecting to get `7,000 crore at any time by the end of the current fiscal. As the Centre already released `4,000 crore, the state government hoped to get at least `3,000 crore as per the Centre’s own calculations.When asked to comment on the Centre’s stand that Andhra Pradesh will get only `138 crore towards revenue deficit, official sources said that the latter arrived at the figure after deducting funds allocated for centrally-sponsored schemes. 

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