Finance minister Arun Jaitley argued a case for setting up GST Council-like federal institutions to promote healthcare, rural development and agriculture sectors to allow the Centre and states to supplement each other’s efforts instead of competing.
In the 10th and concluding part of his ‘Agenda 2019’ series titled ‘Why Agriculture, Rural Development and Healthcare Require a GST Council-Type Structure?’ Jaitley urges pooling of resources to avoid overlap and duplication.
“The question, thus, is why can’t this experiment be replicated elsewhere?” Jaitley asked as he flagged these areas where GST Council-type of cooperation was possible.
“The GST Council has become India’s first federal institution. Its working is a role model in other areas where federal institutions are needed in India,” Jaitley said, pointing out that it displays the maturity of India’s democracy and politics.
The GST Council is an “excellent federal institution”, which in its 34 meetings has decided thousands of issues with consensus leading to benefits to traders and people and developing ‘New India’, he said. The GST Council is chaired by the finance minister and comprises finance ministers of all states.
“When larger national interest requires, decision-makers can rise to the occasion. It negates the popular impression that politicians of different shades of opinions will always be divided on party lines,” he said, making a case for the model to be used elsewhere as well.
“Agriculture, rural development and healthcare are areas where, in the larger national interest, the GST Council experience needs to be replicated,” he said, adding that in these areas both central and state governments are spending a lot of money.
“Should they not be pooling their resources and ensure that no overlap or duplication takes place and that the interest of the largest number is protected and enhanced?” he said, questioning why elected governments must compete.
He pointed to the case of West Bengal, Delhi, and Odisha, which have refused to implement Ayushman Bharat where every poor family gets up to Rs 5 lakh of hospitalisation support annually. Similarly, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka and West Bengal are non-cooperative in PM Kisan scheme where small and marginal farmers get Rs 6,000 income support annually.
Source: Economic Times