Every child born in Haryana is saddled with a debt of Rs 1 lakh. This is true with the estimated total debt on the state increasing to over Rs 2.29 lakh crore.
The main opposition Congress, which was at the helm for a decade till 2014, has been blaming the BJP-JJP government for pushing the state into debt and taking it towards bankruptcy.
As per official figures, the state’s debt was Rs 70,931 crore in 2014-15 when the BJP assumed power in the state for the first time.
In the current fiscal, it is expected to touch a whopping Rs 229,976 crore by the end of this fiscal.
As per budget estimates of 2021-22, the debt to GSDP ratio is estimated at 23.27 per cent in 2020-21, while it was 16.23 per cent in 2014-15. For the next fiscal, it is estimated at 25.92 per cent.
Leader of Opposition and two-time Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda told IANS that the BJP-JJP government is taking the state towards bankruptcy.
“That is why the debt figures were not clearly stated in the last budget speech. As per our estimations, the total debt has increased to Rs 2.25 lakh crore by March 2021,” he said.
Opposing the steep hike in development charges in areas falling under the civic bodies, Hooda said the Congress would question the government on issues of corruption, debt and unemployment in the upcoming Budget session of the Assembly.
He said the state had a debt of about Rs 70,000 crore when the BJP took over the reins of the state after the 2014 Assembly elections. Before handing over the helm several projects of national importance were commissioned by the Congress government.
“In the past seven years, the debt has increased to Rs 2.5 lakh crore,” said Hooda, adding no major project was established. “Where have these thousands of crores gone?”
According to Hooda, under the Congress government Haryana had become number one in per capita income, investment and generating employment.
“The neglect of 52,000 anganwadi workers is a living example of the negative thinking of the BJP-JJP government towards the daughters. Women workers say the government is not implementing the announcement made by the Prime Minister on September 10, 2018, to increase the honorarium of workers by Rs 1,500 and for helpers by Rs 750,” he said.
A revenue surplus state till 2008-09, Haryana has consistently been in deficit after that. In 2016-17, the debt burden was Rs 124,935 crore.
In 2017-18, the interest payments were pegged at Rs 11,257 crore — up from Rs 9,616 crore in 2016-17. In 2015-16, it was Rs 8,284 crore.
CRISIL’s last year study of the top 18 states, including Haryana and Punjab, says the aggregate indebtedness of states, measured by debt to gross state domestic product (GSDP), is expected to remain elevated at 33 per cent this fiscal, despite the post-pandemic recovery bolstering the shrinking revenue graph.
The ratio had risen to a decadal high of 34 per cent last fiscal. Sticky and elevated revenue expenditure and the need for higher capital outlay will keep borrowings up this fiscal, it adds.
For the rising financial debt, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who also holds the finance portfolio, is blaming the Congress government for leaving behind a debt liability of Rs 98,000 crore.
“In 2014, when the BJP assumed power the state had a debt of Rs 98,000 crore, while the Opposition used to claim it to be Rs 61,000 crore,” he told the media on February 23.
Also he defends by saying the loan liability is increasing because the capital expenditure (money spent on creating assets) is also increasing.
“When the BJP came to power in 2014-15, a debt of Rs 27,860 crore of power distribution companies was included in the government’s debt under the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana. For this reason, the total debt has increased. When the Congress tenure ended, the debt liability was Rs 70,900 crore. If the loan amount of Rs 27,860 crore taken by power discoms is added, the total debt is Rs 98,000 crore,” Khattar said.
He said revenue collection had dipped during the coronavirus period and an additional expenditure of Rs 1,500 crore was incurred.
Blaming the BJP-JJP government for the monstrous cycle of a huge debt, Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “The BJP-led government has increased the state’s debt from Rs 68,000 crore to Rs 2 lakh crore in seven years of its rule.”
Officials said the outstanding debt by the end of Khattar’s maiden term from 2014 to 2019 was Rs 185,463 crore.
While presenting the budget in March 2021, Khattar said the debt liability of the state is likely to go up to Rs 229,976 crore as on March 2022 from Rs 199,823 crore as on March 2021, constituting 25.92 per cent of the gross state domestic product (GSDP).
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)