Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeks states’ support to boost economy

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the pre-budget meeting with state and union territories finance ministers as Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg looks on, at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI)

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday sought the support of states to rev up the slowing economy and said without them the goal cannot be achieved.

The finance minister said while the Union government had the responsibility of setting the direction of economic growth, it was the responsibility of states to implement it, according to a Twitter post by her ministry after a meeting with state finance ministers here.

“In her opening remarks at the pre-budget consultation meeting, the finance minister said no goal can be achieved if states and the Centre do not work together in cohesion,” said another Twitter post by the ministry.

The Budget meeting preceded the 35th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council here, chaired by Sitharaman. The budget interaction is seen by many as an ice-breaking event before the Council meeting in which neither the Union government, nor the state governments together, can take a decision without the consent of the other.

Sitharaman last week met chief ministers of several states, including those of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Rajasthan. The NDA government has indicated that states will play an important role in policy making in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week convened a meeting of the governing council of federal think tank Niti Aayog to take on board the views of states regarding key policies his administration will take in the near term.

Niti Aayog also announced setting up of a task force of chief ministers that will recommend a blueprint for resolving one of the pressing issues before Modi — rural distress. Sitharaman had also invited suggestions from the public on her maiden Union budget in order to make it broad-based. Her officers were examining suggestions made by various stakeholders in public domain, including on social media.

The minister sought the cooperation of all the states and union territories and extended cooperation in realising “the aspirations of people”. The Twitter post by the finance ministry said the tax revenue that the Union government shares with the states has increased to 42% from 32% in the five years starting 2015.


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