It is an open secret that Andhra Pradesh is reeling under widening fiscal deficit due to indiscriminate borrowings on the part of the state government. Still, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government headed by YS Jagan mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh continues to hunt for funds in the form of loans to meet its political requirements that have already relegated infrastructure development and community projects.
The welfare schemes initiated by the Jagan government are liked to vote bank politics. One wonders whether Jagan, despite occupying the hot seat, is briefed responsibly by his trusted officials regarding the state’s finances. Knowledgeable civil servants perhaps have ‘reservations’ in this regard as their political boss is bent upon grabbing one more opportunity to rule the state solely on the strength of the welfare benefits he has distributed among large sections of people. Jagan has made up his mindto retain power at ‘any cost’.
So, community development projects and infrastructure growth have taken the backseat. Extraneous things that impress people are replacing solid symbols of the state’s growth.
The AP government is claiming that nearly 87% of the families living in the state are getting welfare schemes or Nava Ratnaalu.
Jagan wants people to look at his government’s work on the welfare front and give YSRCP another chance to rule AP. This point is lodged in the hearts of the poor and needy, with some wondering whether such question was ever posed to people by a ruler of the state.
It is not clear how far themuch-publicised welfare measures, costing Rs 2.2 lakh crore at last count, have changed the living standards of people in the state. Families below poverty line do get lakhs of rupees as beneficiaries of welfare schemes from the government through direct deposits into their bank accounts.
Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy disbursed the amounts into the bank accounts of beneficiaries by pressing a button on his computer. This digital transfer of funds thrills people, though they have seen no concrete development.
Due to widespread Illiteracy, most of the people really don’t know how to spend wisely. One can understand if an illiterate person spends unwisely. The same cannot happen in the case of the state government.
Mere distribution of money cannot improve the living standards of people. What is the purpose of having a state government? The least it can do is to upgrade the living standards of marginalised people by recourse to carefully designed policies.
For instance, the sum of Rs.2.20lakhcrore spent on welfare measures would have sufficed for the construction of four multipurpose irrigation and power generating projects like Polavaram, which is now hanging fire for want of funds. But the ruling party will not get votes if it focuses on Polavaram project. It is a different matter that the state will benefit tremendously.
This explains why Jagan finds it easier to appeal to people on the strength of welfare benefits showered by his government.The families that have benefited immensely from Navaratnaludo not know properly about the fiscal health of the state. Due to indiscriminate borrowings at high interest rates, there is nearly Rs. 2.00lakhof debt burden on the head of every citizen of Andhra Pradesh.
The ignorant beneficiaries are made to believe that Jagan resorted to theseborrowings only for them. Not a rupee from the Rs 2.20lakhcrores spent on welfare schemes can be recouped, since they are giveaways intended solely to create vote banks for the ruling party.
The beneficiaries are not bothered about what it means to the future generations when it comes to creation of community assets and infrastructure. At the same time, people who are not benefiting from the welfare programmes but honestly paying taxes to the government are sore about the way things are moving. They want their money to be better spent, in line with sound fiscal principles.Will the government realise this hard truth and accommodate such sincere taxpayers?