Odisha’s per capita debt burden rose by 375% in past 21 yrs

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Odisha’s per capita loan burden has gone up more than three times during the BJD rule (2000-2021).

According to sources, the State’s per capita loan burden in 1999-2000 was about Rs 5,000, which has increased by 375 per cent to Rs 23,761.83 by the end of 2020-21.

The per capita loan burden by the end of 2011-12 was Rs 9,144.40. So it means the per capita debt burden has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Similarly, the total debt burden of the State has remained about Rs 1 lakh crore, which is 15.7 per cent of the gross state domestic product (GSDP). As per the budget estimate, the loan burden figure to reach Rs 1.22 lakh crore by March end, said an official.

The State had spent Rs 42,639 crore under various poverty alleviation schemes and welfare programmes during the financial year 2015-16. The amount includes Rs 10,943 crore Central share and Rs 31,695 crore from the State government. The spending on this sector has gone up to Rs 75,000 crore in the current fiscal year.

The State has made an expenditure of Rs 26,639 crore for execution of its own schemes during the year 2015-16, which has increased to Rs 42,874 crore in the current financial year.

While the State’s per capita debt burden increases each year, the BJD government is launching one after another welfare programme to maintain its popularity — starting from one rupee rice per kg to Kalia scheme under which the government is distributing direct money on the bank accounts of the farmers.

“Even though the State has not crossed its limit on debt burden, the borrowing amount is not being spent on asset creation. Even the borrowed money spent for paying salary, which is a cause of concern,” said Panchanan Kanungo, former finance minister of Odisha.

Just before any election, the BJD government comes up with a scheme. Ahead of the Panchayat polls, the government launched Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojna, smart health card distribution and distributed financial aid to people of poor and marginal sections of society like street vendors, BPL families, farmers, etc. These initiatives put additional pressure on the State exchequer, said a local financial expert.

An official of the State finance department said, the debt burden in Odisha is well within the limits fixed in the fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) Act. The borrowed amount was fully utilized for capital asset creation like construction of roads, bridges, irrigation projects, etc, he said, adding, the State is consistently maintaining a revenue surplus.

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