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Loan Mounting, State Share Decreasing In Odisha’s Annual Budget

24 March 2018

Soumya Ranjan Sahoo

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Bhubaneswar: Even though BJD-led Odisha Government has been presenting annual budget surpassing Rs 1 lakh crore since 2017-18 fiscal, the loan burden is ironically increasing and state share decreasing.

This is also evident in the current fiscal year of 2018-19 although an annual budget of Rs 1, 20, 028 crores was placed in the Assembly by Odisha Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera on Friday (March 23) afternoon.

Reacting to it, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra said, “I’m not averse to loan borrowing. But, in comparison to the rate of loan burden being shouldered by the people of Odisha, question arises on the rate of development. This is today’s main question.”

The senior Congressman questioned, “What is the share of the State Government in it? Its share is only Rs 38,850 crore. Had the State Government implemented the Sanjiv Hota Commission recommendations, the State coffers would have now earned Rs 50,000 crore annually from the mineral resources. Congress had demanded then following which the Commission had been formed. Commission was constituted and also submitted report. Why didn’t the State Government accept it?”

He added, “We have repeatedly been demanding that tax should be levied on the land under which lie the mines. Had it been, today at least Rs 10,000 crore would have been generated annually. Hence, State Government would have generated Rs 50,000 from only mining source.”

“If Rs 38,000 is added to it, imagine the quantum of development in Odisha. All the demands of the farmers would have been fulfilled today, unemployed youths could have been provided job opportunities. Migration of labour force from our State would have stopped. They would have got ample jobs and appropriate wages,” the Leader of Opposition remarked.

However, economic expert and senior journalist Dillip Bisoi viewed, “In a federal structure, the revenue generation capacity of a State Government is very low. Odisha’s revenue generation depends on international market which is beyond its control. For example, the prices of iron ore and steel.”

“The decline in Odisha’s growth rate in 2017-18 is of two main reasons. They are slashes in the price of iron ore and steel in the international market and it was beyond Odisha Government’s control. The next reason is that of the sky-rocketing price hike in petroleum products that hit hard the rate of consumption and thus, the loss of revenue caused to the State exchequer,” he explained.

He commented, “Certainly, State Government has a major duty to observe. A large amount of tax arrears need to be collected as well as a large chunk of tax is being evaded. If the State Government here exhibits its efficiency in a bolder manner, more revenue could be generated.”

On the other hand, Odisha BJP vice-president Sameer Mohanty criticized, “The ruling BJD Government has planned to sail through the electoral river by borrowing loan. Hence, over Rs 20,000 loan burden is being shouldered by a new-born in Odisha. Borrowing of loan is not bad, but it ought to be utilized properly. If it is invested on such a thing that could be generating revenue, a balance could be maintained. But the people of Odisha are going to suffer a lot due to this Government’s inefficiency.”

Notwithstanding that, BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash defended, “As you know, we were unable to pay off the loan we used to borrow in the past. But now, the State Government has made provision for pay off Rs 5,000 crore loan amount. Every Government opts for loan either from the open market or Reserve Bank. Hence, the criticism is simply for the sake of politicizing it.”

“So far the issue of State Share and Central Share is concerned, the State Budget is being presented only after the Union Budget is placed going by the proposals and allocations made in the latter. There is no Central Share. Whatever goes from the State is being given back to the State through the Union Government. Hence, the Centre is not showing any kindness to the State. It’s being obtained as per the Constitutional provisions,” argued the senior BJD MLA.

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Narasingha Mishra, Leader of Opposition, Odisha

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Dillip Bisoi, Senior Journalist, Odisha

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Sameer Mohanty, Vice-President, BJP, Odisha

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Sameer Dash, Spokesperson, BJD