Andhra Pradesh faces a difficult time as the fiscal year comes to a close.
The State that boasts of a budget of the size of Rs 1.13 lakh crore for the current financial year is in such a difficult position that it is selling securities at regular intervals to make the ends meet.
A sum of Rs 1,450 crore was raised today through sale of government securities. A total of Rs 11,450 crore has been raised in this manner so far during the current fiscal, sources in the state finance department said.
The principal opposition Telugu Desam Party has expressed concern over the mounting State debt.
“From Rs 48,000 crore in 2004, the State’s debt has jumped to Rs 1.54 lakh crore now,” TDP spokesman and former minister Kodela Siva Prasada Rao pointed out.
Transport Minister Botsa Satyanarayana was candid in admitting that the state’s financial health was very bad.
“In 2008-09, we had a revenue shortfall of Rs 25,000 crore. In 2009-10 it shot up to Rs 33,000 crore though the shortfall has reduced significantly this year,” Mr. Botsa noted.
Sources said the revenue shortfall this year could be around Rs 20,000 crore.
Excise department has been the prime revenue contributor through sale of liquor this year. The excise revenue touched Rs 11,000 crore by the end of January 2011, while it is expected that another Rs 2,000 crore could be garnered by the end of the fiscal.
The countless “welfare” and “development” programmes initiated in the last six years have become a millstone around the government’s neck.
Consider just one such scheme: reimbursement of tuition fee for students pursuing professional courses.
The scheme has become such a burden to the government that it earned the Supreme Court’s wrath at least twice for non-payment of the fee, thereby, putting the students’ academic career in jeopardy.
The government is supposed to release Rs 3,414 crore under the fee reimbursement scheme this year, but it hasn’t released a single rupee yet despite claims to have sanctioned Rs 865 crore.
“Besides this Rs 865 crore, we will be releasing another Rs 600 crore in the next few days,” a senior finance official said.
Further, a senior minister told PTI, “Yes, things are in such a mess that we immediately require a sum of at least Rs 20,000 crore to keep the show running for the next two months.”
In fact, the state’s worst financial situation became a point of intense debate at the Cabinet meeting here yesterday where ministers expressed serious concern over piling dues.
During the just-concluded Rachchabanda mass contact programme, the government claims to have released Rs 1,200 crore for various welfare programmes like social security pensions, three per cent interest scheme for women self-help groups, weaker sections housing and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme works.
This amount was only to clear half of the old dues amounting to a total of Rs 2,500 crore and now the balance Rs 1,300 crore has to be released.
Jalayagnam, the ambitious irrigation projects programme of the State government, has come to a halt due to the dearth of funds.
Of the Rs 15,000 crore budgeted for the programme this year, only about Rs 6,000 crore has been spent in the last ten months while dues amounting to another Rs 4,000 crore have piled up.
Given the precarious financial position of the state, it is unlikely that any further allocations will be made for this “prestigious flagship programme”, government sources admit.
The State’s budget for 2011—12 will be presented to the state Legislature on February 23. It remains to be seen if the real picture about the state’s finances will be unveiled this time unlike the previous years.