SHIMLA: Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Prem Kumar Dhumal today hit out at the Himachal Pradesh government for its "poor financial management" which has "pushed the state into a debt trap".
Initiating the debate on the budget presented by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh for 2017-18 in the Assembly on March 10, Dhumal said, "It is much ado about nothing. "The over-four-hour-long speech by the chief minister on his 20th budget may be a record of sorts, but the fact is that every year, the state government is exceeding the limit of borrowings set by the Centre and if it continues, the state will not even be able to procure loans in future."
Expressing concern over the "failure" of the government in spelling out a plan for resource mobilisation in the budget, the former chief minister said the "disturbing" aspect was the government opting for "short-term measures, further worsening the situation". "Out of every Rs 100 spent in the state, Rs 22.55 would come from borrowings, while Rs 65 is coming from the Centre, which implies that the state's share is only Rs 12," he said.
Dhumal claimed that the state government has raised loans amounting to Rs 5,000 crore this year, more than the Rs 4,000 crore limit as per Article 293(3) of the Constitution, which could be a "cause for trouble in future."
Alleging that the Congress government in the state was indulging in "wasteful expenditure" by appointing 45-50 chairmen and vice-chairmen of boards and corporations, the BJP leader claimed that the total loan liability of the government would stand at Rs 39,213 crore as on March 31.
He said it was a matter of concern that in spite of the Rs 72,470 crore sanctioned by the 14th Finance Commission to the state, compared to the Rs 20,000 crore of the 13th Finance Commission, the government "failed" in prudent financial management and was raising more loans.
Alleging that the government has "cheated" the youths by allocating Rs 150 crore for unemployment allowance, Dhumal said there were 12 lakh unemployed youths in the state and the total liability on payment of allowance to them stood at Rs 12,000 crore.
"But, what happened to it is not known," he said. Dhumal said the chief minister had announced to set up a football academy at Dharamsala, construct a helipad near Shimla and create a playground in each of the Assembly segments in the state and alleged that all of these projects remained only "on papers". The BJP leader asked the government to inform the House about the Gau Sadans (cattle shelters) set up in the state as per High Court orders, how many monkeys were sterilised, and sought to know the fate of the announcements made in the past regarding constructing tunnels and bus stands and installing water ATMs.