In 1.5 lakh-crore Budget race, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana forget reality

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Without taking ground realities into consideration, the two Telugu states are competing with each other.

Hyderabad: Without taking ground realities into consideration, the two Telugu states are competing with each other in increasing the Budget size for financial year 2017-18. Annual Budgets of both TS and AP are likely to touch Rs 1.5 lakh-crore each in financial year 2017-18. In the current year, the Budget of TS is Rs 1.30 lakh-crore and AP is Rs 1.35 lakh-crore. A TS finance official said they knew at the beginning of the financial year itself that it would be very difficult to reach the Budget target. He said for the next year too, the situation would continue. For the next financial year, TS Budget will be around Rs 1.40 lakh-crore and AP’s Budget will be around Rs 1.45 lakh-crore, the official said.

In the present financial year, the TS government has projected its tax and non-tax revenue to be Rs 72,361 crore, and AP projected it to be Rs 57,813 crore. Finance officials of both states said the governments had fixed unrealistic targets to boost the total Budget figure. A senior official of TS government said at the end of the financial year, they will face revenue shortfall of about Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore. AP too is in a similar position.

Due to shortfall of revenue, governments of both states have stopped clearing pending bills; the TS government is paying bills related only to Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya. According to sources, bills worth about Rs 2,000 crore are pending. The AP government has also stopped all the pending bills worth about Rs 5,000 crore. After the Union Budget was presented, Chief Ministers K. Chandrasekhar Rao and N. Chandrababu Naidu held meetings with their finance officials and told them to try to tap maximum funds from the Centre in the next financial year.

In tapping funds from Centre, TS is far better than AP. In the present financial year, AP was not able to get Rs 350 crore under Backward Areas Development Fund and Rs 400 crore meant for construction of Amaravati as announced by the Centre. While TS has been submitting utilisation certificates promptly and as prescribed by the NITI-Aayog and getting all possible funds from the Centre, AP is not that prompt. But the AP government fails in submitting utilisation certificates to the Centre and as a result, is not able to get funds. The TS government has estimated that it will get over Rs 50,000 crore from the Centre in the next financial year.

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