Tribune News Service
Shimla, February 11
While demanding a White Paper on the status of 30 schemes announced by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur in the last Budget, Leader of the Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri on Monday accused the BJP government of pushing the state on the verge of bankruptcy by planning to raise loans worth Rs 10,000 crore in the first two years.
Initiating the debate on the Budget proposals for 2019-20 presented by the Chief Minister in the Vidhan Sabha today, Agnihotri launched a blistering attack on the BJP government for its poor fiscal management. “What is even more worrisome is the fact that you have tried to deliberately conceal the poor financial health of the state by not making mention of the date in the Budget,” he alleged.
He said the BJP which accused the Virbhadra Singh government of raising Rs 17,000-crore loans had admitted to running the government on loans worth Rs 10,000 crore in the first two years itself. “Rather than exploring ways and means to generate resources, you are adopting the easiest path and virtually boasting about taking loans,” he lamented. He said that if concrete fiscal measures were not taken, the state economy would collapse as debt trap had already touched Rs 50,000 crore. He said development had been the biggest casualty in the last one year.
He remarked that many of the schemes announced last year had failed to take off and this year’s Budget makes no mention of them amounts to deceiving the people of the state. “We demand a White Paper on the status of the 30 new schemes you announced in 2018-19 Budget, as the onus lies on you to ensure their implementation,” he said. He said it was for the first time in the history of Himachal Pradesh that the Budget speech made no mention of the size of the Budget which had been pegged at Rs 44,387 crore.
He also took a jibe at the CM for taking pride in the fact that growth rate had improved to 7.3 per cent. “There is no reason to pat your back as in 2015-16 when Virbhadra Singh was the CM, the growth rate was 8.1 and it dipped due to demonetisation,” he said.
He said there had been a decline in the fruit and food grain production and the tourist arrivals had reduced despite tall claims of the BJP government to give a major fillip to the tourism.
He regretted that most of the schemes be it in tourism, agriculture or horticulture had been reflected in the Budget speech despite the fact that they were being posed for external funding. “There is also regional imbalance in your Budget proposals as maximum schemes and projects are for Mandi. You are CM of the state and not just of Mandi,” he said.
He accused the BJP regime of misusing the government funds by planning to launch “Mera Parivaar, BJP Parivaar” scheme. “This amounts to misusing government machinery and funds by asking beneficiaries of Central and state government schemes to put a BJP flag atop their house,” he said.
Reacting to the allegations, the CM said that he had been left disappointed at the speech as the entire focus was on the last year’s Budget rather than the Budget he presented on February 9. “I admit raising loans was your as well as our compulsion, but we are ensuring that it is spent on the most vulnerable sections who deserve it but not a word of appreciation for that,” he said. It would have been far better if you had spoken on facts, he said.