Rashid Paul

J&K Budget 2019-20 fails to amuse many

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Experts pick holes in it, say 74% of budget will be consumed in paying for administrative costs including salary and pensions; has nothing to address highest-ever unemployment rates in J&K

Srinagar, Dec 18: With State Administrative Council (SAC) having approved the Budget for the fiscal 2019-20, this statement of J&K’s income and expenditure shows a grim economic situation with little to spend for asset creation, and the revenue expenditure having touched an all time high of Rs 58,422 crores.

The revenue expenditure which stood at Rs 32,948 crore in 2014-15 has now catapulted to Rs 58,442 crore.  This means that of the total budget of Rs 88,911 crores the state shall have to expend 74 percent on its administrative machinery, on disbursement of salaries, pensions and other expenditures.

Experts say that this upward trend in administrative expenditure reflects the absence of actual economic activity in J&K and dependence of the subjects on state services.

An amount of Rs 30,469 crores has been earmarked as capital expenditure -- not so significant increase of Rs 1341 crore over the ongoing financial year.

This capital shall be utilized on creation of assets, infrastructure development and repayment of state public debt and loans to various entities.

The state is resorting to borrowings to have a substantial amount in hand for investment on infrastructure development, to generate employment and enhance economic output.

The previous coalition government of BJP and PDP had borrowed Rs 9,113 crore and the SAC approved budget shall borrow approximately the equal amount for the purpose.

“The actual capital expenditure of the state is not more than 20 percent of its budget. Part of the revenue expenditure has been over the years added to the capital expenditure to camouflage the economic sickness of the state,” said Prof Nisar Ali, renowned economist.

A sizable amount of Rs 6,941 crores of the budget shall go into payment of interest on the liabilities which have shot up to Rs 68,204 crore by 2017-18.

The budget reflects a fiscal deficit of approximately Rs 14,000 crores, signifying the exceeding government's total expenditures against its revenue generated (excluding borrowings).

Interestingly, a fiscal deficit of Rs 9,673 crores estimated in the budget approved by the out-gone coalition government has been revised at Rs 19,529 crore.

With awfully low capital expenditure, the unemployment of people in the productive age groups is increasing over the years. As per the state’s Economic Survey Report of 2016, Jammu and Kashmir has the highest unemployment rate of 24.5 percent in the age group of 18 to 29 years, highest throughout India.

There is nothing in the budget to attend to this problem and the SAC, like its predecessor, has failed to make this section of the society as stakeholders and meet their genuine aspirations, say experts.

 

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