With debt burden rising, all eyes on Odisha budget 2019

Bhubaneswar: The populist announcements prior to the polls are expected to pose a serious challenge for the Odisha government which will be presenting the full budget on June 28. The Finance department is leaving no stone unturned to announce a suitable budget for everyone and suggestions have been sought from the public through e-mail, SMS and WhatsApp.

In the interim budget prior to the polls, the government had presented over Rs 1.32 lakh crore-budget for 2019-20. However, whether revenue will keep pace with the expenditure is something that is keeping everyone worried.

Even though revenue from GST and mining has increased, it doesn’t seem enough to cover the expenditure for schemes rolled out ahead of the polls. The annual commercial tax revenue generated from GST goods increased to Rs 10,280.82 crore in 2018-19 from Rs 6127.27 crore in 2017-18. Similarly, revenue from mining was Rs 1546 crore in first 3 months of the last year and this year, it has increased to Rs 2106 crore.

Finance Secretary Ashok Meena said, “We are aware that the State was majorly affected by the cyclone which will impact the budget, so we don’t want to buy any resources.”

For KALIA scheme, the State government has allocated Rs 4,461 crore, out of which Rs 2,200 crore has already been disbursed. But the State government is expected to face a major challenge to arrange funds for Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY), PEETHA scheme, Rs 1 rice scheme, Mission Shakti, Madhu Babu Pension scheme, potable water scheme Basudha and farm loan waiver.

While the current debt burden is at Rs 87,000 crore, by 2020 March, it is expected to cross Rs 1,03,000 crore.

“What they have announced, they won’t be able to fulfil. In comparison to last year, revenue will decline,” said former Finance Minister Panchanan Kanungo.

BJP leader Biswabhushan Harichandan said, “This government has made allocations without any proper planning and ultimately they are going to put the State under a huge burden.”

In response, ruling-BJD vice-president Prafulla Chandra Ghadei said, “The government has taken loans within its limits.”