The Empowered Committee of Finance Ministers of the Northern Zone States met at Vigyan Bhavan, here last evening under the chairmanship of J&K Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb A Drabu.Finance Minister from Haryana, Captain Abhimanyu, Finance Minister of Punjab, Manpreet Singh Badal and Secretary Finance for UT Chandigarh, Advisor/Additional Secretary ISCS, Government of India, Principal Resident Commissioner J&K, Secretary Planning and Development from HP, J&K and NCT of Delhi were present at the meeting. The issues discussed in the meeting included Fiscal and Federal Framework in the post-GST Regime, Areas for Regional Cooperation, Regulatory Cooperation, Joint Disaster Management and Environmental and Sector Specific Policy Harmonization.Speaking at the meeting, Dr Drabu called for developing a framework for economic cooperation amongst the Northern Zone states in multiple areas so that the recommendations are placed before the inter-state council.
He called for putting in place a mechanism for inter-state cooperation which he said will over a period of time evolve the model for Lateral Federalism. “Federalism today is between centre and states. But time has come for the states to cooperate between themselves in what is called Lateral Federalism,” he said and suggested setting up of a Dry Port for the Northern States.Dr Drabu also mooted the idea of a creating a framework for sharing cash balances between Northern States, “so that we have a kind of ways-and-means facility for the Northern Zone that all the states presently have with the Reserve Bank of India.”He also put forth the idea of leveraging public infrastructure of all the northern states and creating northern regional infrastructure hubs in the region. He also suggested uniform regulations across the states, effective border management practices and joint disaster management plan for the Northern Region.
It was agreed in the meeting that the integrated approach for the development of Northern Zone States is the need of the hour in view of the emerging economic and free market scenario. It was emphasized that financial resources and fiscal resources could be used in a better manner by using hydro energy, tourism, expressways, air connectivity, trade and commerce, financial systems in setting up of institutions so that singular progress of the state and collective progress of the region is ensured.The Finance Minister from Haryana identified certain areas of cooperation for Power Trading Arrangement and Sharing of Resources amongst the Northern Zone states.The Finance Minister of Punjab laid stress on the need for massive governess, policy reforms, ethics and resolving interstate problems related to infrastructure. He also emphasized the need for sharing of experience and cooperation between northern states for the development of border areas.The members were of the opinion that further deliberations should be held to roll out the roadmap for workable and sustainable regional cooperation among the Northern Zone states.