Punjab in a debt trap | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Punjab in a debt trap

Behind Punjab’s debt-trap, the Congress as well as Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)--Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine have contributed somewhat equally in the past 15 years.

chandigarh Updated: Oct 17, 2010 08:52 IST
Pawan Sharma

Behind Punjab’s debt-trap, the Congress as well as Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)--Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine have contributed somewhat equally in the past 15 years.

According to Government’s records, the outstanding debt of Punjab in 1993-94 was Rs 10,500-crore and it will increase to Rs 71,510-crore in March 2011.

The total debt of Punjab on March 31, 2010 stood at over Rs 1 lakh crore, which included guarantees of Rs 35,396-crore on account of Rs 35396-crore loan generated by 12 various agencies of the Government such as PSIDC, PSEB, PUNSUP, MARKFED, PIDB, Punjab Mandi Board.

The debt servicing (interest payment) will reach Rs 8,193-crore in this fiscal.

Between 1994-1997 the Congress regime had borrowed Rs 4750-crore. But the SAD-BJP coalition government of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was on a borrowing spree in its 1997-2002 term with net borrowing of Rs 16,246-crore.

Equally ‘impressive’ was the debt-management of the previous Congress Government of Capt. Amarinder Singh—2002-2007. In sharp contrast to his recent worries aired in the recently concluded Vidhan Sabha session on Punjab’s debt crossing the Rs 1-lakh crore mark, Capt. Amarinder Government had raised Rs 17,342-crore loan from various institutions in five years.

However, the Congress regime had succeeded in getting some respite from this tightening noose of debt with Union Government waiving-off Rs 3,772-crore “special term loan.”

And in the past four years---2007-2011--the Akali-BJP regime has crossed the previous bench marks of borrowing with Rs 21,253 loan already taken.

According to the government functionaries it was in this background that the former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal was sticking his neck out, risking his political career and inviting the wrath of the party, which he has now announced to have left.

Manpreet had dealt at length on debt in his touching and emotional resignation letter, saying: “I thought the attempt to remove the stigma of debt from the face of Punjab would be lauded.”

“But it seems,” he had said, “that a certain section in the party wants Punjab to continue to be debt ridden. I do not accept this premise…Only our enemies would wish that Punjab continues to remain debt-ridden.”