By Sanjay Borkar
Panaji, Apr 30 (IANS): Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has come under attack from the Opposition for his statement that his government will not need to take loans after two years, as there will be enough revenue collection by then.
According to the opposition parties the state's total debt is pegged at Rs 24,175.93 crore and the mining business, which is the main source of revenue generation, is still not running due to several hurdles.
Ministers in the Pramod Sawant government are on record saying that as mining is yet to resume, there is a need to focus on tourism, which can generate revenue.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant while presenting the budget with the gross expenditure at Rs 26,844.40 crore for 2023-24, has focused on tourism for revenue collection along with mining.
"We have done such planning and financial management that after two years, we will not require to take loans. We will have mining revenues, GST collections, excise revenues, and 36 per cent share from the Manohar International Airport at Mopa," Sawant said during a programme in North Goa.
"Goa will be on track to generate enough revenues in the coming years, after which it won't require to take loans," Sawant made this announcement recently.
"I didn't hesitate to give sanction to taking a loan from NABARD for projects, because I have done financial planning for the next four years," he said.
Hitting out at the BJP government over the issue of 'debt' the opposition parties have alleged that the former is trying to hoodwink the people of the state.
Goa Forward president and MLA Vijai Sardesai, speaking on the issue, said that Goa's debt is a staggering Rs 24,000 crores, around 24% of the Gross State Domestic Product.
"The chief minister's statement is highly misleading, and perhaps made to justify even more borrowing in the next two years. Till today, apart from the tall claims from this government, we've seen no concrete plans to relieve Goans of this enormous burden imposed on them by inadequate fiscal planning, extravagant government expenditure, and sub optimal revenue generation," Sardesai said.
"With no thrust to industry and local businesses, and unemployment at an alarming rate, the chief minister is presiding over a precarious economic situation that can escalate and get out of hand in the next 2 years. The CM's attempts to mask his own failures with false hope will not fool Goa," he stated.
Sardesai said that Sawant has repeatedly promised commencement of mining operations for the last three years but recent High Court decisions indicate that mining with new environmental clearances will not start for the next two years, the time when the Chief Minister intends to spend lavishly on events by creating an illusion of a future notional windfall for the state on account of mining.
Congress media cell chairman Amarnath Panjikar said that Pramod Sawant should come out with a 'White Paper' on the current critical financial situation of the state.
"The BJP government is functioning with 'Mission Total Commission'. Corrupt event management government under Pramod Sawant is enjoying commission from these events and other projects. The government is taking loans for everything that is happening in Goa and the current debt is around Rs 24,000 crores," he said.
"Is there any concrete financial plan to come out of this huge debt trap," he questioned.
He said that the beneficiaries of various schemes have not been getting money for the last many months. "Even staff salaries of various departments are pending, contractors don't get their bills passed without total commission. We request the Chief Minister not to fool the people of Goa with another Jumla," he said.
Panajikar said that with restriction of environment clearance to start mining activities, this business cannot resume. "We doubt that it will start in the next two years," he said.
Trinamool Congress convener Samil Volvoikar said that the Chief Minister should first focus on repaying the loan. "He is trying to fool the people of the state on every issue. Mining process is framed by the court, there is a big question whether it will resume soon. Even if mining activities are resumed we don't know to what extent it will be. He should first clear the loan and then speak that he will not take more loans. He should first clear the current debt," Volvoikar said.