Saturday, March 10, 2012

State Debt will go up to 47443 cr

No steps taken for SC/ST/OBC, refugees

 Former Finance Minister and PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig said today that Jammu and Kashmir’s debt was expected to go up to ` 47,443 crore by 2014-15, which would be worked around 90 per cent of total Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) instead of prescribed limit of 49 per cent.

Addressing a press conference outside the Legislative Assembly after Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone turned down his plea to allow him to speak in the House after Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather’s reply to the budget speech, Mr Baig, former Deputy Chief Minister of the State, reiterated his charge that the State was falling in debt trap and Mr Rather has failed to give any roadmap to bring the State out of it.

He said the estimates and the figures revealed that J&K would had a debt of ` 28,724 crore during 2009-10 and ` 31,271 crore in 2010-11, which would go up to ` 34,694 crore in 2011-12, ` 38,511 crore in 2012-13, ` 42,746 crore in 2013-14 and ` 47,443 crore by 2014-15.

Total income of the State i.e. Gross State Domestic Product (both Goods and Services) would be ` 41,367 crore during 2011-12 and taking 7 per cent growth into account, which has been projected by Mr Rather, the total income would go up to ` 44,258 crore in 2012-13, ` 47362 crore in 2013-14 and ` 50,673 crore by 2014-15, Mr Baig said.

"As per the Finance Commission’s directions, as against ` 50,673 crore worth income, the State’s debt and liabilities should be ` 24,000 crore i.e. 49 per cent of total GSDP. Instead, our liabilities and debts would be 90 per cent of total GSDP i.e. nearly double the permissible limit’’, the former Deputy Chief Minister, who was flanked in the press conference by two senior PDP leaders, Abdul Rehman Veeri and Basharat Bukhari, said.

He regretted that the Finance Minister has failed to give any roadmap to bring the debts and liabilities under control. "Our debts will be 125 per cent of total economy. The Finance Commission has said that if the debts were not brought to 49 per cent, no money would be given to the State in the next award’’, he said, adding as his disclosures would have exposed the Government he was not allowed to speak in the House.

Mr Baig said without mounting debts and liabilities it was a common sense that fiscal deficit of the State would go up and not decline.

He added that the previous PDP Government was negotiating with the Central Government to give ` 16,000 crore to ` 17,000 crore of Prime Minister’s Re-construction Plan (PMRP) to J&K Government instead of getting these projects executed through the Central agencies. The present Government has failed to take any such initiative, he regretted.

The former Finance Minister recalled that J&K had been designated as special category State along with North Eastern States till 1991 when it used to get 100 per cent grant. "When we were in the Government, we were negotiating with the Centre for treating J&K at par with North Eastern States for 100 per cent free grant instead of present system of 90 per cent grant and 10 per cent debt’’, he said and asked: "why can’t J&K be declared special category State at par with North East’’?

Mr Baig said he had advocated earlier also that the Government should go for debt swapping by raising loans from financial institutions at 8 to 10 per cent interests and return ` 18,000 crore worth liabilities on which the State had to pay 15 per cent to 20 per cent interest.

Calling for appointment of a Commission to assess losses under Indus Water Treaty, the PDP leader said J&K would become ` 50,000 crore to ` 60,000 crore surplus instead of reeling under debt if it managed to get compensated for the losses suffered by it under the Treaty.

He charged the Finance Minister with misleading the House that the Union Government had fixed targets under Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act during 2007-08 when PDP was in power. Claiming that the targets had been fixed in 2009, he wanted to know how the PDP could have taken an initiative earlier.

He attributed decline in fiscal deficit to 4.2 per cent to taking 2004-05 figures into account for calculating GSDP instead of 1998-99 besides not counting Rs 1300 crore obtained through financial institutions for returned J&K Bank’s Overdrafts and ` 1000 crore grant to liquidate OD in the fiscal deficit.

Pointing out that the Government would be unable to control the future debts, he said any such steps would bring down the growth from 6.8 per cent to 5 or 4 per cent.

Countering Mr Rather’s claim that the had to pay 17.5 per cent interest to J&K Bank on ODs, he said the interest rates were 10 to 11 per cent during PDP regime though Farooq Government had paid 18 to 24 per cent interests to J&K Bank.

"Who Controlled J&K Bank? Who controlled J&K Bank’s Board? Who has appointed Chairman of J&K Bank’’? Mr Baig asked adding the Government had the powers to decide interest rates through the Board and the Chairman.

He said Mr Rather has counted income of daily wagers in the Per Capita Income but made no mention of unemployed youths, whose number has crossed 6 lakh. He called upon the Government to take urgent measures to improve the welfare of SCs/STs/OBCs and backward districts like Rajouri, Poonch, Budgam, Kupwara and Doda.

Mr Baig also batted for the welfare of PoK and other refugees including Mirpuri, Poonchis etc saying there was nothing in the budget for them. He wanted to know how many SCs/STs/OBCs or youths from Ramban, Reasi, erstwhile Doda, Rajouri and Poonch figured in the list of 800 youths, who have been given seed money as subsidy under finance schemes of the Government.

"There were five Congress MLAs in Doda belt. They were being ignored despite serving their people. They should raised the voice of people. From Rajouri and Poonch districts also, there was just one Minister of State’’, the PDP leader said.

Mr Baig said the PDP Government had brought Rs 33,000 crore worth projects and took ` 3500 crore loan from Asian Development Bank for just 4 per cent or even 2 per cent interest.

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