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

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Fiscal Transfers in Pandemic Times

The Fifteenth Finance Commission has trodden carefully in dealing with the controversial terms of reference issued to it in the presidential order. The commission had the challenging task of dividing fiscal resources between the union and the states due to the serious uncertainty posed by the pandemic. In many ways, the recommendations of the commission marks continuity. Devolution of 41% in the divisible pool of taxes to the states, despite the nudging of the centre in the terms of reference to review it and the continuation of revenue deficit grants, are some examples. The phasing out of the revenue deficit grants to the states in the next five years is likely to pose challenges to the fiscally weak states. The conditionalities mandated for availing local body grants may deny the much-needed money for them as the states may not have the incentive to undertake the reforms unless the public pressure builds up. On the whole, the report of the commission is on expected lines; it does not disappoint but all the same, like the previous commissions, it is a work in progress.

COVID-19 Context and the Fifteenth Finance Commission

The objective of this paper is to understand the core recommendations of the Fifteenth Finance Commission in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. Given the macroeconomic uncertainties and rising fiscal needs, the commission focused on fiscal stability, equity and enhancement of fiscal space through higher borrowing with a fiscal exit plan for both union and states.
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