NITI Will Financially Empower States: Jaitley
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NITI Aayog, which has replaced the 65-year-old Planning Commission, would help financially empower states, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday.
Jaitley, who attended the Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata, said that the Planning Commission was relevant in a command economy structure.
"Now a particular scheme can be relevant for one state but not suitable for another state. In the process, the states will be more financially empowered and get more central funding," Jaitley said.
Regarding the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) plan, Jaitley said no state would stand to lose a single rupee as revenue, and West Bengal, being a "consuming" state, substantial amount of revenue would accrue in the first year of GST rollout.
West Bengal had objected to GST fearing revenue loss.
He also said that proceeds of coal block auction would benefit West Bengal since it was a coal-producing state.
"A large part of the money which we are going to get because of the auction of coal blocks is going to go to coal producing states and West Bengal is going to be (one) of the four states which would be major beneficiaries of that," Jaitley said.
This was the first time since the BJP-led NDA came to power at the Centre that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shared the forum with a union minister in a bid to woo investments in the state.
Banerjee had earlier criticised the government for not giving special financial assistance to West Bengal in order to reduce its huge debt burden.
On the much-talked about land issue, Banerjee said land is not a problem in Bengal.
"But we will not acquire land forcibly," she told industry leaders, adding that industry and agriculture would work together.
Banerjee said West Bengal has its own land bank, land map and land use policy so that investors could take advantage of it.
The state, she said, served as a gateway to south-east Asia and would help investors gain access to markets of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
Replying to Banerjee's remarks, Jaitley said, "You rightly said every state will have to grow. Even in a muti-party democracy, government of different political shapes are there. Also there are national causes to stand together."
Jaitley said economic development of India and of the states go hand in hand and all states in the country are trying to create an industry-friendly environment which also leads to competitive federalism.
Jaitley said West Bengal had a long legacy of industry but unfortunately many industrial units had moved out. "Now our challenge is to re-industrialise the state."
An agreement was signed for a deep sea port at Sagar in presence of Union Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and Banerjee.
"Centre will support development projects of the state. The deep sea port will cost Rs 12,000 crore at Sagar," Gadkari said.
Banerjee named the proposed deep sea port as Bhor (Dawn) Sagar port.
The summit was attended by prominent business people, including Adi Godrej of Godrej Group, Y.C. Deveswar of ITC, Rana Kapoor of Yes Bank, Naina Lal Kidwai of HSBC, Jyotsna Suri of Lalit Group, Swati Piramal of Piramal Enterprises, NTPC chief Arup Roy Chowdhury, SAIL chairman C.S. Verma and TCS CEO N. Chandrasekhar.
Delegation from Czech Republic, Israel, Korea, Luxembourg, US, Britain, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Spain attended the meet.
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