There was a raging debate last week over Haryana’s burgeoning debt. The principal opposition-Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)-has put the debt figure at Rs 1.44 lakh crore. There is a possibility of figure going up to Rs 1.75 lakh crore in couple of years if the state’s BJP government gets bullish in meeting most of promises the party made to the people during 2014 Vidhan Sabha elections. A number of promises made by the BJP are about capacity building in the state for which huge funds will be required.
Some of them are building new colleges, hospitals, roads and other facilities. Still Haryana is not running the risk of getting billed as a debt-stressed state. However, there is merit in what Leader of Opposition Abhay Singh Chautala said in recently held press conference where he expressed dismay over what can be dubbed as ‘non-responsible’ spending of public money.
A few days later when Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar addressed a press conference, he allayed the opposition’s fear stating that the government is very cautious while spending people’s money and people’s participation will be ensured in creating more and more infrastructure in the state. He also did not rule the possibility of levying more financial burden on the people if needed to finance key projects and welfare schemes.
Haryana’s debt-to-gross state domestic product (GSDP) ratio should be controlled at less than 20 per cent. It was estimated to be 18.91 per cent for 2015-16. It is likely to be on higher side when the final estimate for 2016-17 Budget is calculated as the government is currently in spending more. Spending pace is bound to increase when the state starts taking up bigger infrastrucuture projects. The financial burden will further increase the moment government decides to fill all vacant faculty positions in universities and colleges including doctors for health centres and hospitals. Available indications suggest that Haryana’s non-plan expenditure will shoot up in years to come.
Therefore, the task of financial consolidation and management will become difficult for the state’s policy makers. It remains to be seen what kind of fiscal consolidation path Haryana adopts in months come to come, which should get amply reflected in the state’s 2017-18 Budget. One hopes that like the Central government, the state will also come out with the ‘Status Paper on Government Debt’ report.
Haryana has all the potential to be a model of good governance, which means not only development but also ensuring every section of society lives in an environment of safety and security. Dalits need t be secure in a much better as they continue to be the most vulnerable lot in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while giving Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his team a pat on the back in his speech on the states’ Swarnajayanti Celebrations on November 1 in Gurugram, was right when he stated that Haryana has the potential to work as a growth engine to accelerate the pace of development of the country. He said the development of Haryana would result in the development of Delhi.
The state has the potential to take the country further on the path of development as it surrounds the national capital on three sides. When Prime Minister said that it was a matter of pride for him to launch the Swarnajayanti celebrations of Haryana as he had got the opportunity to work in the state for years, he was, in fact, setting a big development agenda for Khattar, whose every action will be under Modi’s scanner. One needs to read between the lines of Modi. “It is believed that Haryana is only an agrarian state but the Haryanvis have also proved their mettle in trade and industry. Not only this, the state has significantly contributed to the defence forces as every tenth soldier hails from Haryana,” said Modi.
This means that the BJP government in the state will have to take things forward in the state. Chief Minister Khattar has promised that the state government would work in tandem with Telangana and would make progress in all spheres. Some of districts in Haryana have been declared open defecation free (ODF) and ‘kerosene-free,’ which include Ambala, Gurugram, Jhajjar, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Panchkula and Yamuna Nagar. The seven rural districts which declared ODF include Gurugram, Fatehabad, Faridabad, Yamunanagar, Panchkula, Sirsa and Panipat. No doubt these are good achievements, but not enough to be complacent about the pressing problems of the people arising out of poor health and education facilities. The ‘Deen Dayal Jan Awas Yojana’ is a good move. It aims at checking the development of unauthorised colonies and simultaneously achieving the target of ‘Housing for All-2022’ at reasonable rates in small and medium potential towns. It also aims at providing small plots to accommodate maximum number of people in the limited area in the medium and low potential towns of the state.