Odisha is among the top revenue surplus states in India, as per a recent report - Budget of Indian States. In 2021-22, Odisha recorded surplus revenue at Rs 43,471 crore, pointing to the fact that revenue generation is increasing from various sources, but the expenditure is slowing down.
Opposition parties have raised questions over fund utilization in comparison to revenue generation.
Many suspect that if the state government, despite being revenue surplus, is failing to utilise the revenue effectively, given the fact discontent is reportedly growing among farmers, teachers, lecturers, doctors, government servants, ASHA & Anganwadi workers over salary hikes and other demands. Several groups have been staging protests over their problems and demands. The perennial problem of the farming sector is reflected in the alleged suicide of three farmers in the state recently.
Financial experts say what matters more than the revenue surplus is the expansion and implementation of welfare schemes. “The proportion at which revenue has increased, funds utilisation may not have picked up accordingly. Now, the government is to look at the sectors in which welfare measures and schemes will be executed and funds will be utilised,” observed Rajib Sahoo, a financial expert.
On the other hand, leaders of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) have started boasting about revenue surplus through publicity. The issue has taken a political turn with opposition parties targeting the BJD. They sought to know if Odisha is the number one revenue surplus state, why the people of the state are still poor, and why the CAG, in its report had pointed out that Rs 1.5 lakh crore had not been utilised in the last five years.
BJP leader Anil Biswal said, “The CAG had earlier raised questions on the issue of revenue surplus. In the last five years, Rs 1.5 lakh crore revenue was not utilised. Such a whopping amount could have been spent in social sectors. This means the state government is trying to take pride in being the surplus state while dealing a blow to the poor without utilising funds.”
Congress leader Taraprasad Bahinipati ridiculed the state government, by pointing out, “Lakhs of tonnes of minerals were exported abroad and the mineral resources were being depleted. This created huge revenue. By being revenue surplus, how many youths in the state have been provided with employment? What kind of development has been made in the state? All that has been done are Biju Goonda Bahani with allocation of Rs 50 lakh to each panchayat, Peetha, etc.”
However, the BJD countered the criticism. BJD leader Prasanta Muduli said, "Many welfare schemes have been implemented for the people at the grassroots. If these schemes are counted, the state will certainly be regarded as a leading state in the country.”
As per reports, significant contribution to the state's revenue generation has come from the mining and excise sectors, apart from the GST collections. In the last 10 years, the revenue from the excise department has increased by 300 percent.