Himanta Biswa Sarma
Himanta Biswa Sarma File Image source : Twitter

Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday questioned the “inequality” in the lives of the people of northeastern states, while asserting the importance of Central government schemes.

The Finance Minister was speaking at the India Economic Summit 2018 being held at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

“You have (in the Constitution) Schedule 1 – List 1, List 2 and List 3. Now health is a state subject. Karnataka is capable of launching a scheme like Ayushman Bharat and individuals there can access insurance cover. Can a state like Nagaland launch an insurance scheme of that magnitude without the Centre’s support?” he questioned.

The Ayushman Bharat- National Health Protection Scheme is a Union government initiative that seeks to provide health insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family to 10 crore families.

He said that the people of Nagaland, or Assam, were paying the same amount of tax as those of Karnataka. “Why inequality in their lives? I am also paying the same tax, irrespective of geographical boundaries,” he added.

Sarma questioned if states in the Northeast or Uttarakhand would have access to an all-weather road without the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

“The relationship between the Centre and states on the political front is clear and there is no scope of interpretation. But the economic relationship is still evolving,” he said. “It is a hard task and I believe, in India, the relation between the states and the Centre on all the three lists needs a relook,” he said.

He further said that while the 14th Finance Commission raised the states’ share in the divisible tax pool to 42 per cent from the earlier 32 per cent, the onus of many Central sector schemes was shifted to the states, reports TOI.

He added that the Centre and states should come face to face and have an interaction and try to create a new India without conflicts between the states and the Centre.

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