Thiruvananthapuram | In a guarded response to the 14th Finance Commission award that increased devolution of tax revenue to states to 42 per cent, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said overall assessment of the new process could be made only after practical implementations. Welcoming the Finance Commission’s decision to increase states allocation and flexibility in implementing schemes, Chandy said these matters were a long-stand demands of the states.
Kerala was in the forefront in taking up these issues with the Centre, Chandy told reporters during cabinet briefing here. Now there is a situation in which states will get more revenue from Centre, but whether the states would get the increased amount was not clear as many of the Centre Sponsored Schemes have been scrapped, Chandy said. However, while states tax revenue share has been increased, many of the Centrally Sponsored Schemes have been scrapped, he said, adding, allocation has been reduced in some cases.
He said there was no financial crisis in the state and UDF government would not cut any of its welfare programmes, adding total amount spend on various welfare schemes including pension would come to around Rs 5000 cr. Similarly, an amount of Rs.400 crore has been given from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in the past four years and this amount was three times more than previous year’s figures. Chandy said the third phase of his ‘Mass Contact Programme’ by directly engaging with people, mostly the less privileged would be held between April 20 and June 11.
The unique outreach campaign, which won the UN award for public service for Chandy, involves Chief Minister meeting hundreds of people at district head-quarters on a fixed date and finding solution to their grievances on the spot itself. To a question, Chandy made it clear that government has no plans now to increase the retirement age of government employees from 56. Such a decision would be taken only after taking youths in the state into confidence, Chandy said.