Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, July 23:
Odisha Finance minister Pradip Kumar Amat today claimed that the state government had taken loans for essential developmental activities only and said the state’s economic health was stable in comparison to many other states.
Replying to an adjournment motion debate on Odisha’s loan burden in the Odisha Assembly, Amat said “By careful handling of debt management, the state has been successful in containing the loan burden.”
Opposition members alleged that the BJD government had put the state under a debt trap by increasing the loan burden from Rs 18, 000 crore in 2000, when it came to power, to Rs 50,000 crore now.
“The state can easily repay all its loans if it collects penalty on the mine owners,” BJP legislature party leader Basant Panda said.
Rejecting the accusations of opposition Congress and BJP members that the BJD government had pushed the state into a debt trap, the Finance minister claimed that Odisha had not lifted loans from the open market since 2006-07.
“With proper implementation of provisions under Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Rule, 2005 as per recommendations of 12th finance commission, the state government has earned an interest waiver of Rs 1,909.50 crore at the rate of Rs 381.90 crore per year from 2005-06 to 2009-10,” Amat said.
Stating that Odisha used to take loan from National Small Saving Fund, he said the state government had repaid on priority basis the loans taken earlier at higher interest rates.
The Finance minister said the government had been successful in reducing dependence on loans by creating revenue surplus condition.
Amat cited that while Odisha’s debt burden stood at Rs 43,549 crore in the 2013-14 budget estimate in comparison to Rs 1,78,840 crore and Rs 2.32,610 crore in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal respectively.
Similarly, he said that the ratio between the state’s loan burden and gross state domestic product (GSDP) was 14.88 per cent against 17.18 per cent of Jharkhand and 20.64 per cent of Andhra Pradesh and 31.33 per cent in West Bengal.
Amat urged members not to worry over economic condition of the state, while claiming that the ratio of debt was well within the state’s limit.
RBI’s recent report also categorically said that Odisha’s debt burden was well within manageable level, Amat said.