India’s 29 state-owned banks have written off a total of Rs 1.14 lakh crore between 2012-13 and 2014-15, a sum large enough to build more than 10,000 km of highways.
The Indian Express reported on Monday that “twenty-nine state-owned banks wrote off a total of Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debts between financial years 2013 and 2015, much more than they had done in the preceding nine years.”
Here are five things such an amount can do to push India up on the development ladder:
1. Build more than 11,000 km of national expressways at an average cost of Rs 10 crore per km, entirely funded by the government.
2. The current NREGA annual budget is Rs 34,699 crore. With Rs 1.14 lakh crore, the government can widen the scope of the rural job scheme by nearly four times. Conversely, with such an amount, the government will be able to fully fund the NREGA scheme for nearly four years without setting aside money in the annual budget.
3. The written off debt amount of Rs 1.14 lakh crore, if made available to the government, will allow it to nearly fully fund the annual food subsidy bill of Rs 1.25 lakh crore.
4. India currently spends about Rs 14,000 crore to build rural roads. The written off bank debts is more than eight times the annual budget of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. With Rs 1.14 lakh crore, the government can expand the scope of the rural road scheme eight times.
5. India spends Rs 22,000 crore from the annual central budget to finance the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a state-funded elementary and primary education programme. With Rs 1.14 lakh crore, the total amount written off as bad debts between 2013 and 2015, the government will be able to expand the scheme five fold.