Fund rage

  • Clash of the titans
    Clash of the titans: Arun Jaitley (left) and Rajnath Singh | PTI

Home ministry unhappy about lack of budget allocations for special schemes

All is not well between the home and finance ministries, if one goes by the budgetary allocations, rather the lack of it, for special schemes. Several Centrally sponsored schemes relating to police modernisation and effective tackling of left-wing extremism had received zero allocation, as the finance ministry argued that greater resources have been provided to the states as per the recommendation of the 14th finance commission. “The home ministry is not comfortable with the behaviour of the finance ministry and that is exposed,” says Pradip Bhattacharya, chairman of the standing committee on home.

It seems that in the name of devolution of resources to the states, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has narrowed the elbow room for Home Minister Rajnath Singh. It is no more a secret in the party that the two senior BJP leaders have issues against each other.

As against the demand of Rs115.33 crore made by the home ministry to tackle Maoists, the finance ministry has given nil. Also, the home ministry had asked Rs1,980 crore for its scheme to modernise state police forces, comprising seven sub-schemes. All sub-schemes, except the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project, got zero allocation and stood transferred to the states for implementation as per the finance commission report, which gave states an enhanced 42 per cent share of taxes. Another scheme that got zero allocation is strengthening of fire and emergency services.

Bhattacharya says the Union government thinks the Maoist problem is over. “But this is not the correct assessment, as extremists are regrouping and waiting to strike again. Thus, dealing with them should not be left to the states, as they have neither the wherewithal nor the will,” he says.

Also, sources in the home ministry say that state governments, ruled by different political parties, may opt for populist measures to win elections and starve the financial requirement of ensuring security.

Even Home Secretary L.C. Goyal, during his deposition before the standing committee that scrutinised the budgetary proposals for the home ministry, opposed the finance ministry's move to curtail fund allocations for critical security schemes. The sentiment was reflected in the standing committee's report, which said, “The finance ministry should reconsider its decision in consultation with various stakeholders carefully and judiciously, keeping in mind the prevailing security scenario in the country.”

The standing committee also said that national security should not be compromised in the name of financial autonomy for the states. The report said the home ministry was of the view that if the schemes were discontinued, it will fall short of discharging its core function of maintaining internal security in the country. A plan, therefore, is being worked out to approach the Union cabinet to redress the anomalies in the allocations.

The ministry, however, believes the Centre's coordination is crucial for effective implementation of schemes in states. A ministry official says they would need to come up with a solution “where the Centre and states can work together” to deal with security issues.

Another opinion in the ministry is that if it was not possible to get funds for such schemes, a mechanism could be worked out, where the home ministry will have some say in states’ expenditure priorities. But this could lead to conflicts between the Centre and states, says a senior official, as the fund flow under the finance commission does not give scope for any interference from any of the Union ministries.

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