Mrunal Manmay Dash

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that no State will be awarded Special Category Status going forward.

Sitharaman once and for all cleared all doubts and apprehensions about Odisha's Special Category Status demand. Addressing a press conference in Bhubaneswar, she said, “The Finance Commission has clearly said that no special category status will be given to any State. Telangana was an exception. It was awarded the special category status during the Andhra Pradesh bifurcation.”

On allegations of Centre reducing MGNREGS funds to Odisha in the budget, Sitharaman said, “The fund allocation for MGNREGS has not gone down. We keep increasing the allocation as and when the demand increases because the scheme itself is a demand-driven scheme. If you will review the previous 7-8 budgets, every time the initial allocation of the MGNREGS is revised later in the year with an increase in demand.”

“It is one thing to allocate money in the budget and another thing to monitor the ground situation and revise the budget as per the demand. And the most important thing is to implement the scheme on the ground and ensure that the money is actually spent,” she said.

On bringing petrol and diesel prices under the ambit of GST, Sitharaman said, “The GST council will have to take a call on this. Petrol and diesel have already been brought under the GST. Only the rates have not been determined. As soon as the GST rates are finalised by the GST council which has finance ministers of all the states, we will put it on the GST list.”

Sitharaman also highlighted that the States are being provided interest-free loans for 50 years by the Centre. This year’s budget has put emphasis on scheduled castes and tribes. They will get benefits from the Awas Yojana and Har Ghar Nal scheme, she said.

(Reported By Kapilendra Pradhan, OTV)