The Congress and the NCP on Tuesday said financial imprudence was the biggest failure of the government in Maharashtra. Commenting on the state budget, Opposition leaders, holding Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar responsible for the poor management and lack of planning, were unanimous in stating that the budget 2018-19 was more about poetry and pilgrimage than economics. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said, “Today, with Rs 4.61 lakh crore debt and revenue deficit of Rs 15,347 crore, the government was forced to bring down the allocations in key sectors including water conservation and healthcare.”
The Congress leader, who initiated a debate on the state budget in the Assembly, said, “If we calculate the total debt along with interest it works out to Rs 4.96 lakh crore. Which means each individual in Maharashtra is debt ridden with Rs 44,145. In social services sectors, the expenditure expected is 68.8 per cent, whereas, in reality, it is only 59.21 per cent.”
In education sector, instead of 31.7 per cent allocation it had come down to 23.97 per cent, he pointed out, adding that allocation for other backward category is down from 8.4 per cent to 6.11 per cent. Senior NCP leader and former finance minister Jayant Patil highlighted the poor fiscal management of the government.
Cautioning the government, he said, “The revenue deficit, if we factor Rs 21,000 crore for seventh pay commission… interest rate on debt would go up to an alarming Rs 35,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore. It is unlikely to be restricted within Rs 15,347 crore as projected by the finance minister.” Questioning the government on its trillion dollar economy ambition, Jayant Patil said to achieve it, “the government will have to ensure a growth in agriculture sector at the rate of 10.5 per cent. The economic survey has projected a negative growth at 8.3 per cent.”
Highlighting the decline in capital investments to 9.8 per cent, the NCP leader, said, “The past record shows it has always remained in double digits. How can the government push reforms and investments in such a dismal financial scenario?” Former Assembly speaker Dilip Walse Patil said, “Financial indiscipline, coupled with lack of priorities in allocation to the core sectors, are a cause for concern. The Rs 15,347 crore revenue deficit has taken Maharashtra 15 years back.”