Terming the budget presented by Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather as directionless document which is full of discrepancies, former Finance Minister and senior leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Muzaffar Hussain Baig Thursday cautioned the State Government against painting a false rosy picture of the prevailing economic mess in the State.
Initiating debate on Budget 2013-14 in the Legislative Assembly today, Baig pointed towards couplet quoted by the Finance Minister on Wednesday and said “fortunately there has been not much storm in the State during the last two successive years I don’t know about which storm our Finance Minister was talking about”.
By comparing budget speech of the Finance Minister and Economic Survey report 2012-13 tabled by the State Government on the floor of the Assembly, Baig said, “If we look at economic survey and budget speech, figures are totally contradictory as social sector and infrastructure are in poor condition. There is always a roadmap, but the budget presented by government has mentioned nothing concrete about the future”.
He pointed out that regarding GSDP of the State two contradictory figures have been presented in budget speech and economic survey report. He said that the Finance Minister has claimed that there was improvement in GSDP but the economic survey report pointing out a different picture.
He further pointed out that Finance Minister had mentioned that the per capita income figure which Rs 30212 in the year 2008-09 and it rose to Rs 44,533 last year and was estimated at Rs 50,806 in the current finance year. He, while quoting economic survey report, pointed out that in comparison with the neigbouring eight states per capita income of Jammu and Kashmir is woefully poor. On this indicator Jammu and Kashmir occupies the second last number amongst the northern states and UTs.
Contesting figure of Finance Minister that fiscal deficit has been reducing in the State, Baig, quoting economic survey report said that the fiscal deficit has increased from Rs 1930 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 2833 crore in the year 2011-12. He said that the Finance Minister has deliberately hide figure of estimated fiscal deficit of the current financial year. He further observed that Accumulated Fiscal Deficit has been increasing with every passing year.
Taking a dig at Finance Minister for not disclosing deficit in power sector, Baig satirically asked the Finance Minister, “why you are afraid of disclosing power deficit?.
In an obvious reference towards Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who is holding the power portfolio, Baig told the Finance Minister, “I know PDD minister is higher in the hierarchy but your are custodian of Finance”.
He said that power sector was emerging as major defaulter for J&K, but government has not been able to bring reforms in the sector. “Failure of the government to improve collection efficiency and reducing Transmission and Distribution losses are the main reasons for increasing power deficit but the government has not mentioned any steps in the budget document to be taken to improve this sector”, he said and government has failed to improved energy management efficiency. He expressed surprise on all other sectors, the government had hide figures of the current financial year but as far as collection efficiency is concerned the Finance Minister has claimed that it would be 100 percent. “This is total fraud”, he observed.
Ridiculing Finance Minister for just mentioning names of power projects in his speech about energy sector in budget, Baig in his speech, loaded with satire and phrases, said inviting tenders was the noticeable achievements for the government.
Further quoting economic survey report, Baig said that government has even failed to utilized funds allotted under the plan. “Is economic survey report is wrong or your budget speech is wrong?”,he asked.
Baig said that as per the economic survey report the arrears of revenue, as on March 2012, in respect of principal heads of revenue were Rs 1610.09 crore of which Rs 798.6 crore were outstanding for more than five years. “Is it fiscal discipline?”,he asked, adding “why you have not disclosed this in the budget document?”.
He said that agricultural and allied sectors were the backbone of the economy of our State but share of this sector has been declined steady. He said that nothing worthwhile has been mentioned in the budget for growth of this sector. He further mentioned that manufacturing and industrial sector was also ignored in the budget as the Finance Minister had mentioned only three lines for industry in his budget.
Baig further pointed out that entire Kashmir division including Ladakh has been ignored in tourism sector as no new tourism project has been proposed for entire division. He said that there was no mention of creating tourism infrastructure in the budget.
The former Finance Minister said that Health sector was another sector which was totally ignored in the budget. He said that there was no mention of budgetary provisions for completion of projects of various hospitals in Kashmir Valley. He said that it will take decades to completion of some health projects in Kashmir Valley as the state government has failed to mobilize resources of these projects.
“I accused the Department of Planning with adopting fraudulent means and malafide intension by disclosing facts of these hospitals”, he said and demanded that a special package must be announced for the early completion of these hospitals.
Baig also mentioned that in the budget speech government has not made any concrete plan to solve the problems of unemployment in the State.
While concluding his speech Mr Baig mentioned observations made in the report of Comptroller and General (CAG). CAG has exposed fraud, embezzlement, irregularities and misappropriation of funds in Jammu and Kashmir.