Thriruvananthapuram : Those raising protests now are the very ones who handed price-fixing powers to oil monopolies, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, addressing press conference in the capital. Both parities, on their part, empowered oil companies to raise prices as they wished. It’s amusing to see that, not just Congress, but BJP is out protesting, CM told reporters.
The Opposition boycotted the Assembly today and took to provocative protests outside. Recollect what occurred 10 years ago. In 2012, Jaipal Reddy was the Petroleum Minister under second UPA govt. And, he refused to yield to the Reliance demand for a price hike of of natural gas produced in Andhra’s KG basin. In the wake of displeasing Ambani in this manner, the Congress immediately removed from his post.
Congress then went about with its appeasing of oil majors and squeezing commoners. Soon it was time for Union Budget of 2015 following which , the UDF govt in Kerala quickly announced an additional of one rupee in tax. Remember, the cost of petrol and diesel at the time was half of what it is today.
The circumstances that necessitated a fuel cess at this juncture had been extensively explained in the Assembly. It is the vindictive policies of the Centre toward Kerala that forced us to impose it. The Centre is of the mindset it will suffocate the state to defeat the govt. and the UDF stands by holding umbrella for it. Public know better and will not take UDF and BJP protests for what they are made out to be.
Criticisms on the Budget have been answered in detail in the Assembly. Before the Budget, some actively spread false notion that the State’s financial position is grave, Some quarters are still murmur that.
The Opposition and media were extremely zealous propagating that Kerala is debt-trapped and has spending extravagantly. All the fire has fused out.
Let’s take a look at Kerala’s debt figure. The state borrowings in 2020 - 21 was 38.51 percent of GDP. That debt actually declined in 2021 -22 to 37.01 percent. That’s a neat decrease of 1.5 percent. According to estimates for 2022 - 23, that figure will still lower to 36.38 percent. The debt - to - domestic revenue is estimated to be 36.05 percent for 2022 -23. In other words, the debt to GDP ration will have decreased by 2.46 percent over the four year term from 2020-21 to 2023 -24.
During Covid, the economy was badly hit. Government had to bear added costs to sustain life and livelihoods of the people, the reason why debt during that period went up. That phenomenon was not unique to Kerala. Rather the scenario was same for all states and entire world.
The state’s debt-to-income during the pandemic rose to 38.51 percent from an average of 30 - 31 percent. It happened because Kerala utilised the additional credit limit the Centre sanctioned for states owing to Covid - a decision that the LDF government had strongly pressed for. Incidentally, Congress-ruled Rajasthan too raised similar demand. A criticism that. the state govt did great wrong by availing loans for public wellbeing during pandemic, deserves no thought at all.
The derogatory propaganda was that Kerala is a state with only debts and no revenue. The figures laid out now have put the campaigners’ tongues on hold. All they said before have fallen flat. As a way out, they are now making noise calling new levy is tax terror and tax loot.
That, Kerala has debt rate on the rise, is false propaganda. In 2021 -22 the debt, grew by 13.04 compared to the previous financial year. As per revised estimate for 2022 -23 the debt growth will come down to 10.33 and further down to 10.21 in the year 2023 - 24.
These figures in no way indicate a rise of debts or crisis. People will not fall for ploys devised by vested interests. While figures speak for themselves, people who took to false propaganda of debts and debt-traps are now pulling down shutters, said CM.