Goa CM Pramod Sawant says state’s finances stable, rubbishes huge borrowing claims

Pramod Sawant_Goa CM

Dismissing reports of Goa heading towards a debt trap due to shrinking revenue sources and economic slowdown, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has asserted that the state’s finances are “stable”.

Sawant said though Goa’s major revenue source – the mining activity – has been stopped, his government is tapping other options to make up for the losses.

Reports in a section of media here recently claimed the coastal state was borrowing extensively to meet its financial requirements.

Refuting the claims, Sawant said the state’s borrowings have not exceeded the permissible limit.

“The state government was borrowing even in the past. It was borrowing even 20 years back. There is a certain limit of borrowing and we are not exceeding it,” he told PTI on Tuesday.

The “state’s finances are stable” despite the fact that Rs 3,500 crore has been spent annually on repayment of loans taken in the past, Sawant said.

“The repayment costs of loans taken 10 years back are occupying a growing proportion of the committed expenditure. Goa has been maintaining the Consolidated Sinking Fund (CSF) and the Guarantee Redemption Fund (GRF) with the Reserve Bank as buffers for repayment of debt liabilities,” he said.

As on March 31, 2019, the corpus of CSF was Rs 603.54 crore and GRF was Rs 303.90 crore, he informed.

The chief minister, however, admitted that the state has been facing a revenue generation challenge due to the halt of mining operations.

“But, I am sure we will make up for the losses through other sources of revenue generation,” he added.

He said the people of Goa are well aware of the difficulties and have “accepted the stringent fiscal measures being taken up in the state”.

Sawant said his government is hopeful that the mining operations will resume during this fiscal and the state will earn good revenue from it for the next financial year.

The mining operations, a key source of revenue to the government, came to a standstill in March 2018 following a Supreme Court order which quashed 88 mining leases.

Sawant said the state government will not accept the mining dependents’ demand of Rs one lakh per person as immediate relief and a monthly remuneration Rs 20,000 till the industry resumes.

“We cannot fulfill their demand. But we are working on ways to help those who have suffered due to the closure of the mining industry,” the BJP leader said.

“The BJP has been supporting the mining dependents. I can say that the kind of financial assistance given during the BJP’s tenure to mining dependents is historic and no other state has rendered such a help to its people,” he claimed.

Sawant said more than Rs 300 crore has been spent to help the mining dependents, including the scheme of one-time settlement of loans taken by people for iron ore extraction- related purposes.