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Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the general elections, Odisha government is facing flak for its rising debt burden which may touch Rs 92,000 crore by the end of the year.

While in 2000-01, the total debt burden was Rs 21,001.88 crore, after 18 years it has shot up to Rs 76, 428 crore.

In 2014-15, the State government borrowed Rs 7636.54 crore and Rs 11625.32 crore in 2015-16. Similarly, Rs 13,080.17 crore was borrowed in 2016-17 and the figure shot up to Rs 14,419.41 crore in 2017-18.

According to sources, in the last 4 years Rs 46, 761.44 crore has been borrowed in total while only Rs 11,563.03 crore has been spent on developmental work.

Finance Minister Shashi Bhushan Behera said that there is no need to worry as the State is way below its debt limit.

“While the limit set by Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBMA) for loans is 25% of the GDP, we are at 17%,” Behera said.

But financial experts didn't agree with the Finance Minister’s statement saying that such a loan burden will bring trouble for the government in the future.

“If we don’t convert this debt into capital assets then we will not get any return which will lead to increased debts,” Resident Editor of Business Standard, Dilip Satpathy said.

Meanwhile, BJP has also attacked the BJD-led State government saying that it has mostly used the funds allocated by the Centre for its own promotion.

“The per capita debt burden of the state is now close to Rs 20,666. This government has broken the financial backbone of the state. They are using Centre’s money for their own schemes,” BJP spokesperson Lekhashree Samantsinghar said.

Similarly, Senior Congress leader Srikant Jena also bashed the Odisha government saying “They are only thinking about getting votes using different schemes. The State government has pushed itself into a situation of bankruptcy.”

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