IN THE two years since the BJP-led government took over, Maharashtra’s debt burden has spiralled by 26 per cent, from Rs 2.69 lakh crore when it assumed charge in 2014-15 to Rs 3.71 lakh crore in the current fiscal, the budget report said. The debt is expected to reach Rs 4.13 lakh crore next year.
The state will spend a whopping Rs 28,830 crore to serve this debt. Next year, the sum it will spend on servicing debt will be Rs 31,000 crore. Also, the state has witnessed a 14.44 per cent increase in debt as compared to the previous financial year, the highest in the last decade. During the Congress-NCP rule, the highest annual increase in debt was pegged at 12.85 per cent in 2009-10 when it grew from Rs 1.60 lakh crore the previous year to Rs 1.85 lakh crore.
The state government has said the increased load on the state exchequer is on account of local body taxes being done away with, and on account of the partial waiver on road toll charges. Maharashtra’s debt burden has been steadily growing, from Rs 12,000 crore in 1991 to Rs 58,000 crore in 2000.
Simultaneously, the government has been attempting to shore up revenue receipts. The total revenue generated by the state stands at Rs 2.20 lakh crore, an 18.9 increase over the past year when it was Rs 1.85 lakh crore. This annual increase is the highest in the past five years.
However, revenue expenditures grew by a phenomenal 23.12 per cent, the highest in the last five years, to Rs 2.34 lakh crore from Rs 1.90 lakh crore in the previous year.
Political considerations and sops doled out this year which saw a slew of elections across the state seemed to have increased this burden on the state. The state has not had a revenue surplus budget since 2012-13. Its deficit presently stands at Rs 14,378 crore which is the amount that it is spending over and above the total revenue it generates.
The main expense of the state government presently is its cost of establishment. It had been claiming that it wanted to reduce this cost so that more money could be spent on infrastructure development. It presently spends 58.11 per cent of its revenue in salary and pension bill of Rs 1.27 lakh crore.
While this number is still high it is lower compared to the previous year where it spent nearly 61 per cent of its total revenue on paying salaries. The government meanwhile still has a long way to go before it reaches the figures of 2007-08 where the salary bill accounted for only 50.88 per cent of the state’s revenue receipts.