In a major boost for financial health of the two newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the Central Government has released Rs 2977.31 crore worth grants in favour of J&K and Rs 1275.99 crore for Ladakh to give fillip to the development projects and other ongoing works besides meeting regular expenditure, Daily Excelsior reported.
This was the first installment of Central funds released by the Government of India for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which had become the Union Territories on October 31 after bifurcation of the erstwhile State of J&K, it said.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Central Government has apportioned the pending funds for the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh taking various factors into account including ongoing development projects of the Centre, local works, expenditure requirements of the UT administration and funding pattern followed previously by the Central and State Governments.
“Requirement of funds was very high in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as compared to Ladakh,” sources said but added that the Central Government has taken all aspects into account before release of the funds.
Pointing out that a total of Rs 14,559.25 crore Central funds were pending for the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir when it was bifurcated into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, sources said these funds have been apportioned into the two UTs as per the past practice in distribution of funds when Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were three separate regions of the erstwhile State.
The funds were pending with the Central Government on account of 14th Finance Commission grants, shares of Central taxes and other grants which are given to the States by the Centre.
With the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir getting Rs 2977.31 crore worth grants and the Union Territory of Ladakh Rs 1275.99 crore totaling Rs 4253.30 crore, the two UTs still have over Rs 10,000 crore worth grants pending with the Central Government which will be released in due course of time, Daily Excelsior quoted sources as having said.
It may be mentioned here that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on November 28 presented Rs 8820 crore worth first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in the remaining months of current financial year of 2019-20, which will conclude on March 31, 2020.
Powers of presenting grants for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are vested with the Central Government in absence of the Legislative Assembly. Budget of the next financial year of 2020-21 for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will also be presented in the Parliament during the budget session.
She said the Government was seeking Rs 8,820.62 crore as grants for Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh in lieu of the erstwhile State’s share of 14th Finance Commission Award.
The Central Government had on November 1, i.e. a day after the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir came into existence given the nod to the budget of J&K for remaining five months of the current financial year i.e. from November 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 as J&K as a State had ceased to exist and was bifurcated into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
The Presidential Order No. S.O. 3938 (E) dated November 1, 2019, reported exclusively by the Excelsior, had authorized the Union Territory Government of Jammu and Kashmir to utilize the funds for next five months pending approval of the Parliament.
The UT administration has also completed all formalities for next financial year’s budget (2020-21) which was expected to be around Rs 1.21 lakh crore and will also require approval of the Parliament as the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir was under the Central rule in absence of the Legislative Assembly, Daily Excelsior reported.