In the midst of resistance from the Opposition Congress, Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Amendment Act 2022 that seeks to enhance the limit of borrowings of the state government.
The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government increased the state’s borrowing limit to more than three percent of the state’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by approving the FRBM Act in the assembly.
The Opposition protested the amendment in the Act saying that party programmes were being organised from the exchequer, in such a situation, the amendment to the FRBM Act is unnecessary.
Defending the move, Thakur said the global economy has been affected due to the COVID pandemic and Himachal has also not remained untouched by it.
Blaming the Opposition for the state of state economy, he said, “Please accept that your previous tenure is responsible for the poor financial condition of the state.”
Pointing out that the fiscal deficit was 4.23 percent in 2013-14, which reached 4.70 percent in 2016-17, the chief minister claimed, “We have managed to bring it down to 2.70 and presently it is at 2.99. Since our borrowing limit has been fixed at three per cent under the Act, we are revising it.”
During the discussion on the amendment introduced in the House, Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri accused the government of spending extravagantly by buying luxury vehicles, helicopters and organising mega events. He questioned the need to buy a bulletproof vehicle in Himachal and the Chief Secretary being allowed to buy a vehicle worth Rs 50 lakh.
Agnihotri also accused the state government of failing to get a loan waiver or financial package from the Modi government at the Centre. “You make tall claims about a double engine government, but please tell what else the Modi government has given to Himachal,” he said.
He also accused the government of wasting government money on advertisements and hoardings at Delhi and Chandigarh airports.
The Leader of Opposition said that the BJP government has pushed the state to the brink of bankruptcy, which will make it difficult for any government in future to improve the state’s financial condition. He cautioned that the state’s financial position would worsen after the GST allocation of Rs 3500 crore is exhausted in 2023.
The amendment Bill was passed by the House by voice vote.