ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On Finance Commissions - II

The editorial comment “A Burdensome Agenda for the Fourteenth Finance Commission” (EPW, 26 January 2013) has many convincing suggestions to ponder over. The socio-economic issues of the country have assumed a large dimension in last 50 years and the terms of reference of the Finance Commission (FC) have become wider. The task of the Fourteenth Finance Commission is really uphill in view of growing debt problems of some states such as West Bengal and Punjab, among others. The moot issue in this regard is whether the FC can find any mechanism to ease the debt burden of these states. Is any moratorium on interest possible, as the chief minister of West Bengal has suggested several times? Or can there be any special package for states with severe debt burdens or resource gaps?

What can be the alternative ways of resource mobilisation and allocation without compromising on the social and developmental programmes adopted by the government? The conditional grants introduced  by earlier commissions are contrary to the principles of fiscal autonomy of the states and should not be continued.

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