'Himachal inherited liabilities of Rs 92,774cr from previous BJP govt'

Shimla, Sep 21 (IANS): The Congress-led Himachal Pradesh government has inherited the total direct liabilities of Rs 92,774 crore from the previous BJP government, said a White Paper on state finance management tabled in the assembly on Thursday.

They consist a debt of Rs 76,630 crore, other outstanding liabilities of Rs 5,544 crore in Public Account and about Rs 10,600 crore on account of pay revision and dearness allowance (DA) till December 2022.

The debt liability at the end of fiscal 2017-18 was Rs 47,906 crore, which increased by Rs 28,724 crore from 2018 to 2023 and reached Rs 76,630 crore at the end of 2022-23, says the paper laid by Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri, the Chairman on the Cabinet sub-committee on preparing White Paper.

As on March 31, 2017, the cumulative loss of the state public sector undertakings (PSUs) was Rs 3,584.91 crore, which increased to Rs 4,902.78 crore as on March 31, 2022, i.e. an increase of Rs 1,317.87 crore (36.76 per cent).

The paper says the closure of the Planning Commission resulted in loss of around Rs 3,000 crore per annum of the Central Plan Assistance.

During 2023-24, Himachal Pradesh will get Rs 1,319 crore less Revenue Deficit Grant (RDG) as compared to the amount received in 2022-23. Coming years are more crucial as the amount of RDG will be reduced to Rs 6,258 crore in 2024-25 and Rs 3,257 crore in 2025-26.

The then Congress government had presented the case before 14th Finance Commission effectively and got 232 per cent hike in overall devolution of funds as compared to 13th Finance Commission, while the previous state government was able to get hike of only eight per cent in the award given by the 15th Finance Commission over a five year period as compared to 14th Finance Commission.

According to the White Paper, after cessation of the GST compensation in July 2022 the revenues of the state government have reduced by around Rs 2,624 crore per annum.

The borrowing limit of the state government has been reduced by the Central government in 2023-24 vis-a-vis 2022-23 by Rs 2,836 crore on account of reduction in borrowing ceiling and deduction on account of switching over from the National Pension System (NPS) to the Old Pension Scheme (OPS).

The government has taken up with Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) for release of funds deposited under the NPS by the state, amounting to over Rs 9,000 crore, as the state has shifted to the OPS.

Also the Union Ministry of Finance has imposed a cap of Rs 2,944 crore for availing External Assistance under Externally Aided Projects (EAPs) for new projects for a three-year period from 2023-24 to 2025-26.

The efforts of Himachal Pradesh government to increase its revenues through imposition of water cess has been objected to by the Central government, it says.

It says funds on account of 13,066 million units share accumulated from November 1, 1966, to October 31, 2011, are still pending for release to Himachal Pradesh by BBMB.

The previous BJP government didn’t take any concrete steps for release of this share amounting to Rs 3,309.48 crore and the matter is still pending with the Supreme Court.

The White Paper points out that announcement of the 70 national highways was made but in actual practice no roads have been sanctioned by the Central government against these announced highways.

Also the previous government had failed to get adequate Central assistance for the two rail lines -- Bhanupalli-Bilaspur and Chandigarh-Baddi.

During the last financial year (2022-23) of the previous government, the revenue deficit increased sharply to Rs 6,336 crore, which indicates that expenditure was incurred recklessly during the election year without following any norms.

On financial prudence, the paper says the current Congress government has adopted a new excise policy for 2023-24 and it is estimated that there will be an overall increase of Rs 560.92 crore in revenue as compared to actual revenue under this head in 2022-23.

As Agnihotri shared the details of the White Paper, BJP legislators trouped to the Well of the House while raising slogans.

There were heated exchanges between Agnihotri and former chief minister Jai Ram Thakur. The Opposition accused the government of misleading everyone by presenting false figures.

Seeing the ruckus, Speaker Kuldeep Pathania adjourned the House for 20 minutes.



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Title: 'Himachal inherited liabilities of Rs 92,774cr from previous BJP govt'

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