The State’s financial health is now the core political issue in Andhra Pradesh, in the post-election scenario. The State which started with a little over Rs 16,000 crore revenue deficit is now having a whopping Rs 2.45 lakh crore debt in the last five years. This issue is now being traded pointedly between the ruling Telugu Desam Party and the opposition YSR Congress party.
The YSR Congress leaders, V Vijayasai Reddy, Anam Ramanarayana Reddy and Buggana Rajendranath Reddy, were the first to highlight the impending financial crisis in Andhra Pradesh. They held the ruling TDP responsible for the financial mess in the State. They also pointed at the highest level of borrowing by the TDP government in the last five years, ignoring the fact that the State was bifurcated with revenue deficit as additional burden. The YSR Congress leaders also quoted the statements of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) reports which saw no financial discipline in the State.
The YSR Congress found the misuse of the State exchequer by the TDP government with Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu spending money from the State coffers. The use of special flight for every movement, the unwanted events on Amaravati, Polavaram and investment meets had cast dearly for the State. The government had spent over Rs 200 to Rs 300 crore only to take people to see Polavaram and Amaravati cities, which is an unwanted expenditure and financial burden to the State.
However, the ruling TDP, particularly finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu and Planning Board vice-chairman C Kutumba Rao were defending the government and its external borrowing and debt management. The TDP leaders said that the borrowings were under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act 2003. The debt, which is likely to go beyond Rs 2 lakh crore is only because of the non-cooperation from the Central government, the TDP leaders claim.
But, the YSR Congress is armed with more weapons on the financial indiscipline in the State during the TDP rule. It is to be seen how the TDP would face this challenge and justify its mismanagement of the State finances.