2018-19 budget- Financial health of state unlikely to improve

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Photo used for indicative purpose only. Courtesy : Internet

Even as the new state government has projected an annual budget talking of holistic growth but fact remains that the financial health is unlikely to improve. The deficit versus budget is likely to rise to -7061.52 crores in this Rs 41000 crores total budget of 2018-19. The deficit in 2017-18 was -3786.55 crores. Increase of deficit would only mean more loans and more liabilities to the people of the state.

Figures state that the fiscal revenue deficit would be -10.42% in coming year vis a vis -9.38% last year. It clearly shows that the amount going on repayment of interests is increasing every years, as deficits are being parted through more loans every year. In 2018-19 interest payment for loans would be 4260 crores vis a vis last year 3817 crores. By the time this government would go for next Vidhan sabha polls at the same rate the figure would be 5432.78 crores.

The Chief Minister in his budget speech made the remark that their government is working on Prime Minister Modi’s principal of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ but visibly that could be only possible when the financial health of the state improves. The economic survey of the state reveals that the primary sector of the state is not performing to its best.

The survey states that the structural composition of the state economy has witnessed significant change in the past decade. The share of agriculture including horticulture and animal husbandry in GSDP had declined from 26.86% in 1990-91 to 9.68% in 2016-17. Similarly the health of primary sector which includes agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining and quarrying has declined from 35.52% in 1990-91 to 16.01% in 2016-17.

Rakesh Singha of CPI (M) said that Himachal Pradesh had very limited revenue resources and therefore was largely dependent of the central aid always. He said our primary 2 resources forests and water are governed by the Central governments with state having no share into it. And therefore the state is largely driven by agriculture/horticulture. “But as per the survey the primary sector declined by -0.7% in 2016-17 and in it agriculture and animal husbandry declined by -5.3%,” he informed. “So when our agriculture is not improving how is it likely that the state health shall improve in days to come, he stated. He said that the negative rate of our primary sector has already reached the danger mark. “The question now is how to address this bigger issue which shall derive the future of the state,” he summoned.

He said that in the budget speech the government only sounded largely dependent on the center for aids but nowhere in their document have they mentioned how they would fill the 7000 crore deficit. “And then finally they would levy taxes and charges on general public which would be the end sufferer,” he rued. He said how the government can even talk about doubling farmer income to double by 2022, when they are not even working on those lines.

Terming the budget as illusionary, imaginary and the one which cannot address the public issues he added that it is bound to fail and is not more than a jugglery with the tax payers’ money.

However Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur termed the budget to be farmers/horticulturist friendly. He said that for the first time any budget had 28 new schemes all with provided budgetary provisions. Adding, that though the state is going through a financial crunch, yet the state government is trying to fill the gap through added means, though what means were nowhere mentioned in the document.

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