Telangana Finance Minister T. Harish Rao on Tuesday claimed that the Union government owes over Rs 1 lakh crore to the state in the form of pending funds, grants, and compensation.
He told the Assembly that the Centre owes it Rs 1,05,812 and if the pending funds are released, the state can clear one-third of its Rs 3.29 lakh crore debt.
If the Centre releases these funds, the state would not even be required to raise new debt, he said in his reply to the short discussion on “Central government dual policy in implementation of FRBM Act – Impact on state progress”
Harish Rao alleged that the Centre’s unilateral decisions and imposition of restrictions against the state to obtain loans under Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) limits was having an adverse impact on the state.
He dismissed the criticism by BJP on the state’s debts and claimed that unlike the Union government which obtained loans to repay its loans, the state government spent the borrowings on capital expenditure and created assets. He pointed out that the state took up irrigation projects like the Kaleshwaram project Mission Bhagiratha, Mission Kakatiya and other programmes which created assets for the state.
He said that as per the Reserve Bank of India report, Telangana’s debt rank is 23rd in the country.
Harish Rao also rubbished the allegations by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and other BJP leaders over the per capita debt on each citizen of the state.
He stated that while the Central debt resulted in the per capita debt of Rs 1,25,679 on every individual, Telangana’s debt amounted to Rs 94,272 per capita.
During her recent visit to Telangana, Sitharaman has claimed that every child born in Telangana carries a debt of Rs 1.25 lakh.
Harish Rao stated that Telangana’s debt to GSDP ratio at 23.5 per cent is much lower than the country’s ratio at 55 per cent.
He claimed that in the last eight years, Telangana assumed top position in terms of increase in state-owned-tax-revenue with 11.5 per cent growth. Odisha came second with 9.7 per cent, followed by Haryana with 9.2 per cent growth.
Telangana’s contribution to GDP also increased from 4 per cent to 4.9 per cent in the last eight years, despite having just 2.9 per cent of the nation’s population.
“Unlike the BJP government which waived off the corporate loans to benefit its friends, we distributed the State’s wealth among the poor,” he said.
Harish Rao reminded that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found fault with the Union government for obtaining off-budget loans which amounted to about Rs 6 lakh crore in the last five-six years.
He said if the BJP MLAs and MPs from the state succeed in getting the dues from the Centre, he would felicitate them.
The Finance Minister also slammed the Centre for adopting double standards in implementation of the FRBM Act by imposing restrictions on the states, but not practicing them itself.
He said the Centre took a unilateral decision to impose restrictions on the state’s borrowings without constituting the committee as per the recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission. The high-powered inter-governmental committee should comprise the Central and the State governments to review the borrowings.
He claimed that though Telangana was eligible to avail loans up to 4 per cent of its GSDP, it had let go 0.5 per cent of loans for the sake of farmers, after the Centre insisted on fixing smart meters to agricultural pump sets. The Union government also ignored the 15th Finance Commission’s recommendations to release Rs 6,268 crore to Telangana under various heads based on its performance.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to increase the tax share of states from 32 per cent to 42 per cent by GST implementation but by imposing more cess, the Centre has reduced the tax component to the state.
While the Central government was mobilising around 22.26 per cent of its revenue through cess and surcharges, the states are losing their revenue and ending up with only 29.6 per cent of total revenue earned by the Centre. Telangana has suffered revenue loss of Rs.33,712 crore, he said.
He remarked that the state would have received more revenues if Value Added Tax (VAT) would have continued.
He alleged that the Centre has also not released Rs 1,350 crore towards development of backward districts, and accused the BJP for destroying the federal spirit to achieve its motto of “weaker states, stronger centre”.