The State government has advocated the issues of State interest particularly relating to the strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions and local Bodies with the government of India.

While participating in the conference of chairpersons of the State Finance Commissions organized by the 14th Finance Commission at New Delhi today H.P State Finance Commission Chairman Kuldeep Kumar raised these issues. The meeting was presided over by the Chairman Dr.Y.V.Reddy.

Kumar said that State Government was committed to further strengthening the Panchayati Raj Institutions and the Local Bodies in the State with a view to empower the people upto the grass root level and a road map had already been prepared to achieve this objective. He emphasized that there was a great need to meet-out the funding gaps by the Commission so that the capacity building programmes of the Panchayats and local bodies were not hampered due to want of funds.

He requested the 14th Finance Commission to provide Rs.1205 crore as untied grant to the State to augment the consolidated fund of the State, over and above the general devolutions to be made by the Commission to strengthen the grass root level democracy.

Kumar said that the State government had already proposed to the Commission to support the basic services such as sanitation, drinking water, maintenance of assets, roads, paths, traditional water sources and waste management etc. falling under the jurisdiction of the local bodies. There was also a need to finance the capacity building programmes of PRI’s and local bodies including the computerization, broadband connectivity and increase in honorarium of PRI representatives.

Kuldeep Kumar also apprised the Commission about the monkey and stray animal menace in the State particularly in the lower belt due to which farmers were facing huge losses and they were forced to abandon cultivation of agriculture land. He demanded to equip the PRI’s with sufficient funds to deal with these challenges.

He apprised the Commission about the resource crunch of the state due to the wrong calculations made by the 13th Finance Commission. He said that Himachal had tough topographical and hostile weather conditions and need special attention and liberal assistance from the Commission to maintain the pace of development in the State.

Y.V. Reddy and other members assured that the suggestions made by the Himachal government would be taken into consideration while deciding the matter. Dr. Neeta Gautam, Deputy Director, State Finance Commission also attended the conference.