Punjab, it seems, is not knee but neck deep in debt. The gloomy side of Punjab’s debt ridden economy on Monday came out in stark nakedness as the Congress Government presented a “white paper on the State’s finances in the Vidhan Sabha.
Making it clear that the financial mess was the worse than projected by the previous Government, the white paper claimed that the State was reeling under a debt of Rs 1.87 lakh crore (1,87,452.96 crore) against Rs 1.48 (1,48,832) lakh crore as claimed by the previous SAD-BJP Government.
Accusing the previous Government of resorting to the “art of book-cooking”, the white paper claimed to have presented the “true financial position” of 2016-17.
It stated, the outstanding debt, as per 2016-17 Provisional AG Account, is Rs 1,48,832 crore which is 34.78 per cent of the GSDP, while as per the truing-up position of 2016-17, the outstanding debt is Rs 1,87,453 crore which is 43.81 percent of GSDP.
As per provisional AG account, the revenue deficit and fiscal deficit stood at Rs 6,611 crore and Rs 18,105 crore respectively, while it is Rs 19,650 crore and Rs 65,330 crore as per the truing up position.
“From the foregoing analysis, it is evident that the financial position of the State reflected in its various budgetary documents, cannot be taken on its face value. To know the true state of the State Finances, a trueing up exercise, by reckoning the various unknowns, is called for,” the white paper stated.
“The budget documents and CAG Accounts for the relevant years ought to reflect the true state of State’s finances. However, in the face of ‘smart’ accounting practices resorted to by the previous Government, they reveal the picture, but only partially,” it stated.
The white paper stated the total debt servicing expenditure in 2016-17 was Rs 14,145 crore (principal Rs 4,047 crore and interest payment Rs 10,098 crore) which is likely to increase by more than 30 per cent in 2017-18 “on account of the increased debt liabilities of Rs 29,919.96 crore that the previous Government took upon itself in exchange for concealing the liabilities on food account”.
The total amount of outstanding Government loans of PSUs is Rs 17,030.92 crore, other institutions Rs 22,593.95 crore, and loans Rs 20,608.17 crore was outstanding against Government Guarantee. In case of default, it is the bounden duty of the State Government to repay these loans to the lenders,” it stated adding that the State Government received only a small amount of Rs 4.01 crore during 2015-16 as dividend on a huge investment of Rs 8,234.30 crore in these PSUs and Co-operative Institutions.
To meet the expenditure in implementing the Atta Dal Scheme, funds were arranged by the State Procuring Agencies (SPAs) at their own level by diverting funds from CCl provided for procurement of wheat and paddy, it pointed adding that the unpaid liabilities of Rs 1747 crore are still outstanding as on March 31, 2017.
The arrears of Rs 2,773 crore of DA for almost last two years have not been paid to the employees and payments have simply been kept in abeyance.
It added that Rs 2,342 crore were pending as arrears of payment that the State Government has to make on account of power subsidy to the Punjab State Power Corporation limited (PSPCl).