GUWAHATI: State Finance Minister Ajanta Neog put to rest the doubt of the opposition MLAs over the increasing debt of the state government with the conviction that the loans taken by the state government are quite in sync with the guidelines laid down by the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India. She also made it clear that the government has spent the loan amount taken by it for the development of the state.
As many as three opposition MLAs-Aminul Islam, Abdul Batin Khandakar, and Akil Gogoi-raised questions over the number and amount of laon the state government has taken. In her reply to the queries, Neog said, "According to the standing rules, a state government can take loans up to 3.5 percent of its GDP. The rules also say that the GDP-to-loan ratio should not exceed 32 percent. And the GDP-to-loan ratio in Assam is 23 percent."
She said, "From 2001-2014, the then Congress government spent around Rs 30,000 crore as capital expenditure. However, since 2016, our governments have spent around Rs 1 lakh crore as capital expenditure. It is tantamount to development taking place in the state, and the result is that the GDP of the state increased to Rs 4.93 lakh crore in 2022-23 from Rs 2.27 lakh crore in 2015-16. This aside, the collection of revenues from its own sources in the state in the past two financial years exceeded the targets set. This has let the government pay salaries to its employees from its own revenue earnings."
The minister informed the House that the debt burden on the state government was Rs 35,690 crore as of March 31, 2016, and it increased to Rs 1.15 lakh crore as of March 31, 2023.
She said, "We just don't take loans alone. We repay the loans too. The then-State Government took Rs 35,433 crore in loans from 2001 to 2014. We have already repaid Rs 22,790 crore of these loans, as the government is a continuous process."
Giving details of the loans, she said, "We take loans from the market, financial institutions like NABARD, EAPs (externally-aided projects), Capex loans from the central government, the state provident fund, etc."
She informed the House that the State Government paid Rs 3,844 crore as interest in 2018-19, Rs 4,438 crore in 2019-20, Rs 5199 crore in 2020-21, Rs 6051 crore in 2021-22, and Rs 6878 crore in 2022-23.