Finance commission has 'no say' in formulation of ToR: Singh

The Tamil Nadu government Thursday expressed serious concern on the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission, even as the panel's chairman said it had "no say" in its formulation.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami opposed the reference to control of expenditure on government's "populist programmes."

"Populist is a subjective term which has a very fine line of difference with popular schemes.

Tamil Nadu has a number of social welfare schemes designed with specific socio-economic objective and cannot be termed 'populist', he said during a meeting with the Commission chairman N K Singh at the Secretariat here.

Palaniswami said he felt that it would be inappropriate for the commission "to judge the collective wisdom of States' legislatures."

Palaniswami said he has already written to the chairman expressing serious concern on the Terms of Reference (ToR).

"I wish to reiterate that we oppose the use of 2011 population data. It would punish progressive states like Tamil Nadu which have achieved success in population control through their own efforts," Palaniswami said.

Talking to reporters after holding discussions with top government officials, Singh said the commission has "no say" in formulation of the ToR and "it is completely neutral."

About other issues pertaining to Tamil Nadu, Singh said the rise in aging population in the state would create "new pressures" on the government's finances.

Singh said the urban population in Tamil Nadu has crossed 50 per cent based on the latest census data.

"There is no doubt that in the decades ahead, India's growth engine will come from urban centres of growth and will not only provide Tamil Nadu, but also the country a great opportunity to achieve high rates of economic growth," he said.

Singh said the state has made an outstanding contribution to the momentum of India's economic development by bringing down "poverty" significantly below the all India average and the "per capita income" significantly better than national average.

"They (Tamil Nadu) have also had an excellent record in terms of fiscal management and macro economic stability and fiscal and debt ratios well within the acceptable limits," he said.