Guwahati: The Assam Assembly on Wednesday passed an amendment bill to increase its debt to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) ratio to 32 per cent and enhance the additional borrowing ceiling by 0.50 per cent of GSDP.
The Assam Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (AFRBM) (Amendment) Bill, 2022, was passed by voice vote after the Congress, AIUDF and lone Independent MLA in the House staged a walkout protesting against the rise in government loans.
With the passage of the bill, the Debt to GSDP ratio has been increased to 32 per cent from the existing 28.5 per cent for the next five financial years beginning from 2022-23.
The additional borrowing ceiling has also been enhanced by 0.50 per cent of GSDP over and above the prescribed limit of 4 per cent for 2022-23 to 2024-25, which would be linked to power sector reforms, through the amendment bill.
Finance Minister Ajanta Neog, moving the Bill, maintained that the increase in the debt ratio and ceiling on borrowing was in the interest of the state.
Speaking against the amendment bill, Opposition Congress MLA Bharat Narah maintained that the state has been able to achieve its target in only one out of the four parameters affixed for increasing borrowings.
Out of ease of doing business, power reforms, one nation one ration card and urban body reforms, the state government has completed only the first clause, he claimed.
Narah said the government should concentrate on decreasing expenditure rather than increasing loans.
AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam and Independent legislator Akhil Gogoi too voiced their opposition to the increased borrowings.
Neog, in her response, maintained that the state government was working within the permissible limits of the Central government.
She also assured the House that the additional funds will be used only for capital expenditure.
Not satisfied with the government’s response, the Opposition staged a walkout.
The Assembly also passed several other bills.
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