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Kerala FM terms Sitharaman's claims on financial allocations as 'baseless'

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 10 (PTI) Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal on Saturday rejected the recent claims of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman about the financial allocations to the state under NDA regime, saying that the figures she released were "baseless" and her arguments were just "childish justifications." He reiterated the state government's claim that the Centre has been denying deserved allocations to Kerala and choking it in the name of administrative technicalities.

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Balagopal also questioned the comparative figures released by Sitharaman in Parliament recently about the tax shares given to the southern state by the Centre during the times of the Congress-led UPA and BJP-headed NDA regimes.

He said the Union Minister had claimed that the Centre has allocated huge amounts to the state and even granted more shares.

But those figures were not factual, he alleged.

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"The Union Finance Minister said Kerala has received Rs 46,303 crore as tax share during the period of 2004-14 under the UPA rule. According to her, under the NDA regime, during the period of 2014-24, the state has received a tax share of Rs 1,50,140 crore," Balagopal pointed out.

Though Sitharaman described it as a huge percentage increase in terms of tax share, that was just "childish justification", he alleged.

There was nothing to be amused if anyone's salary was increased to Rs 40,000 in 40 years even if the person began his career with a modest income.

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The most significant thing is what was the actual tax share the state should have received and what it is getting at present, he said.

"We actually deserve to get more tax share than we receive at present," Balagopal explained.

He also gave several figures including the tax mobilisation rate of the state before the implementation of the GST to prove his point.

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Various changes made in the tax patterns recently have helped the Centre to receive lakhs of crores of rupees additionally.

While the Centre benefitted from all these changes, states like Kerala suffered a sharp fall in the tax share and revenue, he further said.

"So, the Union Minister's claim of allocating huge amounts to the state was baseless. She made the statement in Parliament on the day when the Kerala government was staging a protest against the Centre's neglect in New Delhi," the Minister added.

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The Centre was not granting permission even for replacement borrowing and the state was going through tough financial situations, he further said.

To reporters' queries, Balagopal said the LDF government is committed to distribute social welfare pensions for the needy in the state.

"But, for that, either we should be allowed to borrow money or other tax revenues should come," he added.

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The senior CPI(M) leader continued to accuse the Congress-UDF MPs of not protecting the interests of the state in Parliament.

He alleged that they were even raising questions in the House in a way that strengthens the arguments of the Centre against the state government.

The state finance minister also said the Congress leadership in the state would have to answer to the people of the state for not joining Kerala government's recent protest in New Delhi against the Centre's neglect.

The opposition had wasted a great opportunity to question the "anti-people policies" of the BJP-led NDA government and their moves to "undermine federalism" guaranteed by the Constitution, he added. PTI LGK SS

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