Urban Development Minister Sudhir Sharma today asserted that the State Government was making all out efforts to bring back the State economy on track which was left in precarious condition by the previous BJP government due to the mismanagement of finances of the State.
Sharma said that Himachal Pradesh has generally been following the pay structure adopted by the Punjab Government based on the recommendations of the Punjab Pay Commission. The previous BJP government flouted the established norms to increase the pay scales of the government employees based on the recommendations of the Cabinet Sub-Committee of Punjab Government which were adopted by the Punjab Government on the eve of their Vidhan Sabha elections just for electoral gains. This enhanced pay structure was done by the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh on the eve of State Assembly elections causing the annual burden of over Rs. 1200 crore, the liability of which is being discharged by the present Government.
Sudhir Sharma said that the previous BJP Government could not present its case properly before the 13th Finance Commission and as a result, the Commission grossly underestimated the committed liability of the State Government. The 13th Finance Commission has not even given an equal treatment to the State despite the fact that preferential treatment to a Special Category State like Himachal Pradesh was required to be given by the Commission. While the Commission recommended an average increase of 126% in total devolution to other States compared to 12th Finance Commission award, the increase in case of Himachal Pradesh was only 50%, which was the lowest in the country.
He said had Himachal got an equal treatment comparable with overall increase of 126 percent for the country as a whole, it would have received an additional fund transfer of Rs 10,725 Crore over a period of five years between 2010 and 2015. The situation has become alarmingly grim during the last two years of the award period of the 13th Commission as the Non-Plan Revenue Deficit Grants during the financial year 2013-14 has declined to Rs. 1,313 Crore from Rs. 1,883 Crore in 2012-13 and will further reduce to Rs. 406 crore in the financial year 2014-15.
The Minister said that as on March, 2008 H.P Government had a loan liability of Rs. 21241 crore which has increased to Rs. 28707 crore on March, 2013. Thus loan liability has increased by Rs. 7466 crore between the periods from March, 2008 to March, 2013. In fact, loan amounting to Rs.1838 crore was converted into guarantee in the year 2009-10. Thus the actual loan taken between the period March, 2008 to March, 2013 was Rs. 9304 crore. Whereas, the loan liability increased only by Rs. 8032 crore during the period April, 2003 to March, 2008.
The quantum of loan to be raised by the State Government depends on the authorization of Government of India under Article 393(3) of the Constitution of India. The State Government has raised the loans strictly in accordance with the authorization affected by the Government of India.
He said the State has already sent its annual plan for 2014-15 to the Government of India, Planning Commission in which the State has sought Rs. 2600 crore for SPA/SCA. But due to uncertainty in the fate of Planning Commission at Govt of India level, the State is awaiting the release of SPA from the Central Government which has put financial stress on State Government.
To provide a concrete roadmap for resource mobilization, a Cabinet Sub-Committee for Resource Mobilization and Economy Measures has been constituted and the State shall act on the recommendations of the Cabinet Sub- Committee. Despite financial constraints, the State Government will not allow the development works to suffer.