Hitting out at opposition Congress-NCP, Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Wednesday said those who had consistently failed for 15 years while being in power, were teaching Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has scored a distinction, about how to study. Replying to the debate on the state budget in the Legislative Assembly presented last week, Mungantiwar said the Congress had ruled the state for 47 years and the opposition leaders were criticising the BJP-led government on the same issues, which they had failed to resolve during their rule.
“Congress-NCP had consistently failed in 15 years of them sharing power (in Maharashtra) and now they are teaching Fadnavis, who has scored a distinction, how to study…saying he was not studying properly,” Mungantiwar said. He admitted that the revenue expenditure was more than the revenue receipts and fiscal deficit had touched Rs 15,000 crore.
“In 2012, 64.72 per cent revenue expenditure was on account of salaries, pension, interest on debt. We have brought this down to 54 per cent,” he said. The fiscal deficit had touched Rs 15,000 crore, which was because of loan waiver, he said adding that his government’s aim was to have “no fiscal deficit”.
The minister said due to GST, there can be no additional taxes levied by the state to boost the revenues. “Our government is on the right path and we are working for the people’s welfare,” he asserted. “Unlike the Congress-NCP, we have not taken overdraft. The last overdraft was taken in 2005 and the debt stock was 25.2 per cent of GSDP. In 2008-10, it was 21.2 per cent. But we have brought the figure down to 16.6 per cent,” he said.
He said the government has to work towards increasing the revenue receipts. Mungantiwar also said that the Congress-NCP had done nothing for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial project off the Arabian Sea, despite making an announcement to this effect in 2001.
“You had proposed a 310-feet statue. We have proposed a 210-meter (statue). This is being decided by the technical experts,” he said. The minister called for the need for an all-party meeting to discuss the farmer suicides.
“This is not an issue of politics. When Prithviraj Chavan was CM, a farmer had committed suicide at his public meeting. In 2001, 62 farmers had committed suicides in the state. If serious steps were taken to stop this, the situation would not have been alarming today,” he said. He also called for changes in the agriculture sector.
Targeting the opposition, Mungantiwar also said that Shiv Sena-BJP will contest the next elections together in the interest of the people of the state, unlike the Congress-NCP, which are planning an alliance “to stay relevant” in state politics. NCP leader Ajit Pawar alleged that the budget was disappointing and did not offer anything except empty slogans.
“When the term of the government ends next year, the total debt would be above Rs five lakh crore. There is nothing in the budget to give boost to agriculture development. “A separate budget on agriculture, like in Karnataka, should have been tabled,” he said.
“Of the total debt, 72 per cent was taken during your (BJP-led government’s) tenure…It is for the first time that fiscal deficit has touched Rs 15,000 crore. There is unrest among the farming community and they are protesting. No one is satisfied. There is lack of planning for fiscal management.
“The government can’t strike a balance between payment of wages, payment of interest on debt and allocation of development programmes,” Pawar alleged. “The budget allocation for agriculture is 6.43 per cent. Four years ago, you had promised to double the farmers’ income, but you haven’t taken any steps in this direction,” he said.
“No one is satisfied in the state– be it anganwadi workers, teachers or government employees,” he alleged. There is no word on the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission. The loan waiver has not been implemented well, the former minister said.