PANAJI: While Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said nine months back that Goa will not need to take loans after two years, the opposition parties have targeted the BJP government over the reported total debt pegged at Rs 35000 crore.
Leader of Opposition Yuri Alemao said that the BJP government since coming to power in 2012 has focused only on event management and spending crores on it.
“Government is in a ‘Debt Trap’ with monthly borrowings of almost 200 crores. This has resulted in the total debt of the state touching to Rs 35000 crores,” claimed Alemao.
He said that in 2007 (during the Congress regime) the liability of Goa was Rs 6317 crores. “It went up to around Rs 7000 crores in 2012 (when the Congress lost power and the BJP formed the government). The present liability is of Rs 35000 crores. This has put a burden of Rs 2.20 lakhs on every citizen of Goa. The government is completely clueless on controlling the rising debt,” Alemao said.
“Mining was stopped by the BJP government which created a major dent in the economy. They have miserably failed to resume legal mining in the last eleven years,” he stated.
“The faulty policies of the government have resulted in the collapse of the tourism sector which is another backbone of the state’s economy. There is a steep decline in the influx of foreign tourists in Goa. This decline is almost 65 percent reportedly this year,” added Alemao.
Goa Forward MLA Vijai Sardesai said that the government should stop wasteful expenditure especially on events, publicity and roadshows.
“Revenue generation hasn’t been the focus of this regime since mining hasn’t actually started this year. Capital expenditure not being spent, rather a bloated, corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy on whom the majority of the revenue expenditure is spent spells doom for growth and progress. The government needs to have a midterm assessment of goals and achievements. Most ministers have underperformed in the absence of periodic assessment,” Sardesai said.
AAP legislator from Benaulim, Venzy Viegas also slammed the BJP government over its failure to control the fiscal deficit of the state.
“The Centre allows a borrowing limit of 3 percent, however our state requested 4.3 percent and the 0.5 percent additional we get for conducting power reforms. But I feel that power reforms have not taken place. Solar power is nowhere. I want to ask the government why we are asking for an extra 1.3 percent borrowing. Our leaders and bureaucrats should keep in mind to bring more revenue. We should have brains to earn revenue and not for borrowing,” Viegas said.
According to him, during the budget 2021-22 the government had estimated to repay debt of Rs 2200 crores towards the principal amount and Rs 1894 crore towards interest payment. However, the government paid only Rs 1783 crores towards interest.
“Planning is mismatching and it’s a big blunder,” he said.
He said the BJP government has failed to come up with revenue generating modules. “The corrupt system inherited by the BJP is forcing them to borrow,” he alleged.
“The government has failed to control the fiscal deficit and also to generate revenue. The majority community should know about this before they vote. Our system will collapse if we don’t take finances seriously ,” Viegas added.
Former All India Congress Committee Secretary Girish Chodankar, who constantly raised the debt issue, said that the BJP government led by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who also holds the finance portfolio, has totally failed in managing the finances.
“This is clear cut mismanagement wherein he (Sawant) borrows money only to organise events and fails to generate revenue,” Girish Chodankar said, adding the beneficiaries of the schemes are awaiting payment.
According to Chodankar, 80 to 90 per cent of the borrowings should be utilized for capital expenditure, so that revenue can be generated.
“Eight years back I had said that it is an alarming situation with regard to state finances, where there is only expenditure but no plans to generate revenue. The government has also failed to take austerity measures, which can be seen in how it spent crores of rupees on swearing in ceremonies and to purchase high end vehicles for ministers,” Chodankar claimed.
He said that the financial situation is such that liabilities have crossed the quantum of the state’s budget. “Debt is more than the state’s budget. This government is hoodwinking the people. Many times the Chief Minister states that the Central government spent thousands of crores on building infrastructure here. If that is true then where does the money of the state go,” he questioned.
He said that apart from the state liabilities, there are the liabilities of the corporations and others, which doesn’t reflect in the state’s debt report.
“Actually the finance secretary should bring discipline, but when any capable officer tries to do it, he is transferred because the officer doesn’t give them the opportunity to do what they want,” he said.
“This BJP government has no vision and no innovative ideas. They are also trying to kill tourism by increasing taxes on liquor. Despite losing the mining revenue, we were trying to run the finances smoothly, but the BJP has failed,” Chodankar said.
“We have done such planning and financial management that after two years, we will not require to take loans. We will have mining revenues, GST collection, excise revenue, and 36 per cent share from the Manohar International Airport at Mopa,” Sawant had said in April 2023.
“Goa will be on track to generate enough revenue in the coming years, after which it won’t require to take loans,” Sawant had said.
“I didn’t hesitate to give sanction to taking a loan from NABARD for projects, because I have done financial planning for the next four years,” he said.
BJP general secretary and former MLA Damodar Naik defending his party said that it is the work of the opposition to target the government and hence they are levelling baseless allegations.
“It is simple… suppose if war at the border is going on and if our soldiers kill 500 Pakistanis (soldiers), then the opposition never speaks about it, but if they target our one bunker then the opposition makes a noise about it,” Naik said, citing an example.
“The state finances are doing very well. One should understand that if we had failed to repay then we would have been called a ‘financially sick state’. Our government has plans to generate revenue and they are going on,” Naik said.