Noted economist and former Kerala finance minister TM Thomas Isaac on Saturday, 17 September, strongly defended freebies being rolled out by different state governments in the country, saying that critics were not finding any fault with the Central government that divides its revenues between the corporates and the rich.
Taking part in Dakshin Dialogues 2022 in Hyderabad, Isaac said the learned critics of freebies had raised no concerns when the Union government reduced corporate taxes significantly.
He also expressed concern over corporates condemning concessions being doled out to farmers.
“The Union government wrote off corporate loans worth ₹10 lakh crore in the last five financial years. The same Union government is now browbeating states for giving freebies,” he said.
“A sharp asymmetry is visible between the states and the Centre now. States are giving freebies using their resources without violating any laws. There are stringent rules against rolling out freebies indiscriminately. Nobody can use borrowed money to give freebies,” said Isaac.
Coming down heavily on the Centre for discriminating against states, Isaac said the 15th Finance Commission was hellbent on undermining the fiscal domains of the states, and its recommendations were not implemented only because of the Covid-19 epidemic.
He said the country’s real power was in its diversity, but the current regime at the Centre was not accepting of that diversity.
“The Centre believes in nationhood sans diversity,” he said, adding that it had undermined the smooth transfer of power and resources between the Centre and the states.
“Resources are not being shared systematically and judiciously,” he said.
“Earlier, the Planning Commission had set rules and procedures for sharing resources. Now, finance commissions are in their place, and they are discriminatory,” he said.
While defending caste-based reservations, Isaac said opposition to it would have to be diluted by extending some concessions to the economically backward among the majority communities without reducing the reservation for the backward communities.
Link to the livestream of the inaugural Dakshin Dialogues event held by South First: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-AEKnYA704
Link to all the videos from the event: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbZMvW807JWuNBOcYK5c91w/videos
Link to the news reports from the event: https://www.thesouthfirst.com/category/dakshin-dialogues/