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'Every penny due for Karnataka given on time': Sitharaman denies Cong claim of fiscal bias

News Agencies | Updated on: 24 March 2024, 13:41 IST
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (File)

Bengaluru (Karnataka): In a push-back against allegations of fiscal bias against Congress-ruled Karnataka and non-provision of funds, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Sunday every penny due to the state is accounted for and was released on time.

Speaking at an informal interaction organised by the Thinkers Forum here in the Karnataka capital, Sitharaman said, "The claim that Rs 5,495 crore as a special grant was not released for Karnataka is totally false. The Finance Commission, in its final report, did not recommend any such special grants."

"Under PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, 80 crore people all across the country and 30.5 lakh from urban Bengaluru get free rations at home every month. I want to flag those guarantees that we fulfilled to help the common people, especially the poor. In urban Bengaluru, 14.68 lakh Jan-Dhan accounts were opened as against 52 crore across the country," the Union Finance Minister added.

She informed further that under the Centre's flagship Mudra scheme, which enables skilled artisans to avail micro-credit of up to Rs 10 lakh, Rs 30,490 crores, alone, were allocated to urban Bengaluru.

"As many as 38.25 lakh beneficiaries (of the Mudra scheme) are in urban Bengaluru alone. The state also received funds under 'Stand-up India', which facilitates loans of between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore for SCs, STs, and women.

In Bengaluru Urban, Rs 467 crores were distributed under this scheme. There are as many as 4,429 registered beneficiaries of this scheme in this area of the city alone.

Also, 1.25 lakh street vendors in urban Bengaluru were enlisted as beneficiaries under the PM Swanidhi Yojana.

Of these vendors, 62 per cent are women, 31 per cent are OBCs and 29 per cent are SCs and STs.

Under PM Jeevan Jyoti Beema Yojana, more than 30 lakh beneficiaries were enrolled as beneficiaries in Urban Bengaluru," Sitharaman said, dismissing the claims of the ruling Congress in the state.

Sitharaman added that the state's share of the GST mop-up of Rs 1.06 crore for Karnataka for the period between 2017 to 22 was released in full and no GST compensation is due for Karnataka as of March 2024.

In a veiled swipe at the Congress for contesting the Centre's growth projections, Sitharaman said, "The rate of growth pre-GST was only 11.68 per cent. Today, as it is reaching 15 per cent, they can't accept it and say the numbers are exaggerated. I wish to tell the state government that GST is benefiting you. It is beginning to raise your revenues from taxes."

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday said his government filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to immediately release grants under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the state, at a time when it is grappling with drought-like conditions.

Addressing a press conference in Bengaluru, Siddaramaiah said, "The Karnataka government waited a long time (for the Centre to release funds) and now, but eventually we had no option but to file a petition in the Supreme Court. The Centre should release the NDRF fund at the earliest".

Earlier, venting his ire over the alleged bias of the Centre with regard to its budgetary allocations for the South states, Congress MP and brother of Karnakata Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, DK Suresh, said if the Union government continued to ignore the fiscal needs of states south of the Vindhyas, the people will raise a call for separate nationhood. The statement drew a sharp rebuke from the BJP, even as the Congress distanced themselves from it.

First published: 24 March 2024, 13:41 IST