Accuses Chief Minister of misguiding House on State’s finances

Accusing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of “misguiding the House” and the people of Karnataka, Opposition leader H.D. Kumaraswamy demanded “a clear picture on the financial position of the State” in the Lower House on Monday.

Initiating a debate on the State Budget, Mr. Kumaraswamy pointed out a “contradiction” in the Medium Term Fiscal Plan (MTFP) and the budget presented on Friday , before taking up a detailed discussion on various aspects of the budget.

Mr. Siddaramaiah, who enjoys the credit of shaping eight budgets, had “misguided the House” by banking on his experience as Finance Minister, and “underestimating the fiscal understanding” of the Opposition, he said.

His objection was about the reference of the financial performance of the previous governments. He objected to the Chief Minister’s statement that the Congress government had “inherited” a stressful financial position from the previous government and revenues were declining, besides being plagued by high borrowings. Mr. Kumaraswamay argued that the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, headed by Jagadish Shettar, had recorded a revenue surplus of Rs. 943 crore.

Contradiction

Reacting sharply to the allegation that the State’s developmental outcomes were disappointing and economic growth was stunted during the previous governments, he said fiscal deficit (5.6 per cent) was, on the contrary, at an all-time high during the Congress government, headed by S.M. Krishna.

GSDP highest

Mr. Siddaramaiah had alleged that the borrowings were high during the Janata Dal (Secular) and BJP coalition government and previous government headed by three BJP Chief Ministers. But the Rs.17, 449-crore borrowing proposed in the present budget, which was 2.9 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product, is the highest in recent years, Mr. Kumaraswamy pointed out.

He also said the MTFP, presented along with the budget, clearly noted that “the State is well on track with respect to fiscal consolidation road map”. This, in effect, means that the government is admitting that the previous government had not diverted from the norms of the Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2002. Mr. Siddaramaiah had to clarify on what basis he had made the allegation, he demanded.