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Budget is jugglery of figures as state heads towards debt trap
March, 29th 2012

Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Eknath Khadse, slammed the state budget for 2012-13 as being a mere jugglery of figures that attempted to cover up Maharashtra's poor finances and the fact that the overall growth story had hit rock bottom. Charging that the budget had been

prepared without any serious intent to address several grave issues in the state from negative agricultural growth to financial discipline, Khadse, in his over-one hour speech, took on finance minister Ajit Pawar for doing a half-hearted job.
He pointed out that the state was heading towards a debt trap by borrowing money to make interest payments on its earlier loans. The states debt currently stands at Rs2.53 lakh crore, the highest in the country.

The state has borrowed Rs92,000 crore from the open market and to make interest payments on this amount, it borrowed another Rs24,000 crore. Of this Rs8,000 crore was used to make interest payments. What was rest of the money used for?'' asked Khadse.

The senior BJP leader alleged that public debt had more-than-doubled in the last seven years under the DF governments rule, but this was not commensurate with the creation of physical assets or improving social indicators of the state. The money has gone into the pockets of fat contractors and improved your health, he taunted, pointing to the treasury benches.

He also pointed out that with establishment costs at 63%, the state had very little finances left for development-spending. Terming this years surplus budget as mere jugglery of figures, Khadse said that the surplus would get revised to a deficit of Rs 2,000 to 3,000 crore next year.

Comparing Maharashtra to Gujarat, he pointed out that the neighbouring state had recorded agriculture growth of 14%, in stark contrast to Maharashtras -9%. He alleged this had little to do with the monsoon and more to do with maladministration.

Even after spending Rs70,000 crore on irrigation, the state has failed to improve the irrigation potential, by one percentage point. It's stuck at 17%, much lower than national average of 45%, he said.

Khadse questioned Pawar's taxation proposals, saying they had been prepared without any analysis or real impact and hence had alienated both businesses and the common man. He said real impact would have been felt if like Goa, Pawar could have given relief to the common man by reducing VAT on fuel. He also claimed that several businesses owed the state VAT refunds to the tune of Rs35,000 crore.

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