By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, June 4: A day after Fince minister Himanta Biswa Sarma came up with a White Paper giving a dismal picture of the State's finces, citing "committed liabilities" of over Rs 10,000 crore which the new government has inherited from its predecessor, former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi hit back, saying the document does not reflect the actual fiscal situation.
"It (White Paper) shows some liabilities, but it is silent on the funds the State is yet to receive from the Centre. Let him (Himanta Biswa Sarma) say how much Central funds were allocated to the State in the last two years and how much were released," Gogoi, who also headed the Fince department in the previous government, told a press conference.
According to Gogoi, the debt burden on the State, as of now, is to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore, which the White Paper does not reveal.
He also insisted that some amounts shown in the document were not "committed liabilities".
"The White Paper categorized implication of the 7th Pay Commission as committed liabilities. Firstly, the 7th Pay Commission is yet to submit its report. Moreover, one cannot categorize this amount as liabilities. Similar is the case with employees' DA. The government is a continuous process," Gogoi maintained.
Admitting that the increase in the State share of Central taxes from 32 percent to 42 percent has resulted in additiol funds to the State, Gogoi, however, said all states, irrespective of their economies, including bigger states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, have got the benefit.
"What we need is special status. Himanta Biswa Sarma is saying that the 90:10 pattern has been restored in most schemes. But funding pattern and special status are two different things," he said.
Gogoi said that when he took over the reins in 2001, his government had to start with an overdraft. "We had to take loans from ADB, World Bank, JICA…," he said.
The former CM questioned that if there was fincial mismagement during his tenure, then how did the State's GDP growth rate and per capita income saw upward swings.
"The GDP growth rate in 2001 was 2.6 percent and at the end of our third term it was 5.87," he said.
He said he would "salute" Himanta Biswa Sarma if he could run the State without Central assistance. According to Gogoi, in a State like Assam, one cannot impose too much tax burden on the people.
Gogoi admitted that there were leakages in the revenue collection system, but at the same time he insisted that the White Paper does not reflect the actual picture of revenue generation.
Gogoi said Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has assured him that the Centre would release the pending oil royalties to the State, but the promise has not been met till date. "We have been taking up this issue since the UPA days. Eventually we had to move the High Court," he said.