Plan panel virtually rejects special category status to Bihar, says it gets special package



Patna,(BiharTimes): The Planning Commission has virtually ruled out any special category status for Bihar on the plea that the state gets a special package of Rs 1,500 crore per year for five years, which has been there since the 10th Five-Year Plan.

The Planning Commission thinks Bihar’s interests could be served better if its current financial package for the state is allocated more funds, rather than the ‘special category’ status the state is demanding.

A senior Planning Commission official was quoted in a report from New Delhi published in Business Standard on Thursday as saying: “It is unlikely that Bihar would get more money by changing the criteria of special category states. It would get more money by simply expanding the ongoing package.”

“The Commission is planning to renew the package for the 12th Five-Year Plan as well, but by how much will depend on available resources,” the official said.

He said though the state might not have a special category status, it was getting a significant amount of funds through special programmes.

“Usually, funds allocated through centrally sponsored schemes are five times the normal central assistance a state gets. In that sense, Bihar already gets a sizeable amount,” the official said.

Special category for Bihar would mean alteration of the current formula of 30 per cent loan and 70 per cent grant to 10 per cent loan and 90 per cent grant for centrally-sponsored schemes and external aid, besides tax breaks.

A special category status is accorded to a state on the basis of five conditions––hilly and difficult terrain, low population density and sizeable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries, economic and infrastructure backwardness and non-viable state finances.

On these grounds, an Inter-tMinisterial Group, set up after the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had rejected the Bihar government’s plea to grant it the status of a backward state.

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