SHILLONG: The Forum of Councils Under Sixth Schedule (FoCUSS) has expressed their resentment over the weak financial situation prevailing in the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in the region.
“As of now we are in a huge financial crisis. GST collected by the Centre is enjoyed only by the State and the Central Governments. There is no share for the district councils. So we at least need to strengthen the financial position of the councils,” chairman of FoCUSS PN Syiem said after the third general council meeting held here on Friday.
Syiem said that Article 275 has been providing financial assistance to the State Government through the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. He however expressed concern that the ADCs are at the mercy of the State Government because there is no proviso saying that a certain amount should be set for the councils.
The chairman of the FoCUSS pointed out that the State Government is enjoying maximum revenue from the power sector but the district councils gets nothing from the power sector.
“So our intention is through this proposed amendment (of the Sixth Schedule), we will strengthen the provisions of different articles and provisions of the Sixth Schedule so that we will enjoy equal benefits,” Syiem added.
He also pointed out that the district councils of the Northeast are happy with Article 280 since they will enjoy benefits from the Finance Commission even as the chairman added that the FoCUSS will send a proposal for amendment of Article 275 too so that there should be a proviso which states that a specific amount should go to the respective councils.
“At the same time we discussed on the GST to look into the rules so that we can enjoy a share from GST also. The main objective of FoCUSS is to strengthen the financial position across the ADCs,” he said.
The KHADC chairman informed that the ADCs in the Northeast had received Rs 1,000 crore as special assistance from the Centre in 2015-2016.
Syiem informed that the ADCs in the region were supposed to get another Rs 1,000 crore in 2016-2017 but could not do so due to the delay in the submission of Utilisation Certificates (UCs).
“The ADCs had in fact submitted the UCs on time. But the UCs from the State Governments and ADCs had to be submitted together. It was the fault on the part of the Government which cost the council dearly,” he said.
The third general council of the FoCUSS which mainly discussed the proposed amendment to the Sixth Schedule, also resolved to send a resolution to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for extension of time to submit its views to the standing committee of Parliament so that the forum could discuss thoroughly the various issues and suggestions can be included in the proposed amendment.
Presently, the amendment of the Sixth Schedule has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Rajya Sabha.