Although lakhs of crores of rupees have been pumped into the system in the name of welfare measures for the poor and needy sections in society, the ‘development’ that is taking place in Andhra Pradesh is at best hollow. If communities develop, they in turn mirror a nation’s or state’s growth. Are the steps being taken today in Andhra Pradesh in consonance with the requirements of tangible and measurable development? If one individual or family is provided lakhs of rupees in the name of welfare measures or social benefits, will it reflect uplift of the masses or disadvantaged sections?
According to data provided by the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government, nearly 87% of the population in the state has benefited from the welfare measures. In the process, every eligible family in the state has got Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh directly into their bank account. Towards this end, the YSR Congress government has spent Rs. 2.20 lakh crore. The bulk of this huge outgo came not from the earnings of the state government but borrowings from the Union government and loans obtained through various corporations.
Official statistics paint a different picture when it comes to loans obtained by the state government vis-à-vis the loans routed through the Reserve Bank of India. The loans obtained by AP as per official information given by the central government currently stands at Rs. 4.46 lakh crore. During the Telugu Desam Party’s rule (2014-19), the outstanding loans of AP totalled 2.64 lakh crore. That is, the YSR Congress government has taken loans to the tune of Rs.1.78 lakh crore. The figures released by the Centre did not include loan obtained by AP through various corporations. Besides, there are charges of diversion of funds from local bodies and corporations for meeting welfare targets. Surprisingly, the state government now feels that it can still obtain permission from the central government to get additional loans from available sources.
It is an open secret that the implementation of ‘Nava ratnaalu’, or nine welfare schemes, has become a ‘white elephant ‘ for the state government. The YSRCP government boasts: “We obtained loans to the tune of Rs. 1.78 lakh crore and spent Rs. 2.20 lakh crore funds for welfare schemes by transferring the same to the bank accounts of lakhs of beneficiaries. The original outstanding amount of loans taken by the AP government from other sources (not through RBI) may be more than Rs. 7.00 lakh crores. That is, more than Rs. 5.00 lakh crore loan amount is there, though not under the RBI’s scanner. People may want to know where Rs. 5.00 lakh crore has gone.
At the end of the day, has the spending of Rs. 2.20 lakh crore served its purpose? The ruling dispensation must do some introspection on this.
As for those in dire straits, it is one thing to teach them fishing and quite another to give them fish, going by the ultimate outcome.
There is no doubt that 87% of the state’s population, as confirmed beneficiaries of welfare schemes, constitute strong vote bank. This explains why Jagan has been asking people to vote for him only if they have benefited from the government’s welfare measures. It is a different matter that even recipients of welfare benefits feel the pinch of paying through the nose for electricity, LPG cylinders, and essential items including vegetables. The poor man may get one kilogram of rice for just one rupee, but he needs to spend hundred rupees to have it along with a curry! This is the paradox that is facing the poor welfare beneficiaries in Andhra Pradesh.
In this backdrop, the Jagan government must redraw its plans and priorities for giving tangible uplift to the poor and needy!