Centre has no discretion in allocating disaster relief: FM

‘Contribution to States on basis of Finance panel’s formula’

The government has no discretion in deciding the quantum of support each State gets for disaster relief, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Rajya Sabha, adding that the contribution is set by a formula according to the recommendations of the Finance Commission.

She added that since the collections under the National Calamity Contingency Duty (NCCD) had been on the “lower side” under GST, the Centre had provided additional budgetary allocations to the National Disaster Relief Fund.

“The amount of annual contribution towards SDRF [State Disaster Relief Fund] of each State, and for each financial year, would be as recommended by the Finance Commission during its award period,” Ms. Sitharaman said in the Rajya Sabha. “So, there is nothing that the Central Government does differently for different States. It is as per the formula given by the Finance Commission.”

Exceptional cases

The Central Government’s share in the SDRF is transferred to the State governments in two instalments in June and in December. It is only in exceptional cases that the Ministry of Home Affairs can release funds early, Ms. Sitharaman explained.

“Eventual to implementation of the GST itself, collection on account of the NCCD is on lower side and, therefore, gross budgetary support is being provided to supplement the requirement in this respect,” Ms. Sitharaman added.

Responding to criticism from the Opposition, the Finance Minister also said that every figure provided in the Budget was “realistic” and was set after due consideration.

“Adequate provisions for expenditure particularly for defence, pension and salary and internal security have been provided for with necessary mobilisation of tax and non-tax resources,” Ms. Sitharaman said.

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