Andhra Pradesh Finance, Planning, and Legislative Affairs Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy on Saturday, 17 September, said he saw the neglected empowerment of the Constitutional local bodies as a reason for creating a “sense of blurriness” between the Union and state governments.
“States are complaining about the federal structure, but how many of them have empowered Zila Parishad, Mandal, and Taluk panchayats? Sometimes, what we do, we get that in return,” he said during a panel discussion at Dakshin Dialogues 2022, organised by South First in Hyderabad.
Reddy also emphasised that the upliftment of grassroots bodies was required for a strengthened bottom-up development model in the country.
The two-time Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Dhone constituency added during the panel discussion that the local bodies should have been strengthened since the day the country achieved independence under “peculiar circumstances.”
“The federal structure, if implemented in spirit and objectively to the level of gram panchayats, will stop this change of policy, which was envisaged by the authors of the Constitution,” he noted.
Constitutional duties overlapping
Asked whether the centralisation at the state government level happened at the cost of deeper devolution, The YSR Congress leader pointed out that the responsibilities and duties enshrined in the Indian Constitution to different bodies were overlapping.
“The duties of local body representatives are well defined in the Constitution, but at times MLAs and MPs want to go and see what happening, which is a clear role of the local body,” he noted.
He was referring to the conflict of ideas among various bodies while discharging their responsibilities assigned by the Constitution.
Equal borrowing rules for Centre and states
Responding to a question posed by former Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac, Buggana said that the rules of borrowing under the 2003 Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act should be equal for the state and Union governments.
“The state government bears 60 percent of the expenditure, but 60 percent of the revenues go to the Union government. So, there cannot be two sets of rules on borrowing. The FRBM rules and conditions should be equal for both the governments as all states ultimately contribute to the nations,” Buggana said, demanding a level playfield.
Agreeing with Telangana Urban Affairs and IT Minister KTR Rama Rao and his Tamil Nadu counterpart Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, who were also on the panel, Buggana said the duties of state governments are closer than those of the Union government to the citizens.