The Finance Ministry’s recent admission that the Union government’s debt has nearly doubled since 2017-18 has raised concerns about the state of the country’s finances. According to the ministry’s reply to V Sivadas in the Rajya Sabha, the government’s debt has increased from Rs 82.9 lakh crore to Rs 155.8 lakh crore in 2022-23. This increase in debt has led to a rise in the percentage of total GDP from 48.5% in 2017-18 to 57.3% in 2022-23.
The majority of the debt, amounting to 148.8 lakh crore, is domestic, while 7 lakh crore is foreign debt. The rise in debt has also led to a significant increase in the amount required to pay interest on the debt. The requirement to pay interest in 2022-23 alone is Rs 9.4 lakh crore, out of a total central budget of 45 lakh crore. Of the 18 lakh crore allocated to debt in this year’s budget, 9.4 lakh crore will go towards paying interest.
While many states are criticized for their debt levels, the central government’s debt continues to soar. Kerala’s debt, for example, is only 39% of state GDP, while the centre’s debt is at 57.3% of GDP. This raises concerns about the government’s priorities and the allocation of resources.
The lack of transparency around government spending has also raised concerns. When asked about the cost of a plane purchased for the Prime Minister and the President, the Ministry of Defense responded with a single line stating that “no information can be disclosed.” This lack of transparency only adds to the public’s skepticism about government spending and the management of public funds.
The passing of the budget in both Houses without debate has also been criticized for its lack of transparency. The move to bring the House to a standstill to pass the budget without debate has been viewed as an attempt to hide important financial figures from the public and the media.
Furthermore, the BJP government has been accused of cutting subsidies and giving concessions to favored corporate families while denying the financial rights of the states. This has sparked a debate about the government’s role in promoting economic growth and development, and the balance between corporate interests and public welfare.
In conclusion, the rising government debt and lack of transparency around government spending have raised important questions about the government’s priorities and the allocation of resources. The lack of debate around the budget and the government’s policies towards corporate interests and states’ financial rights only adds to these concerns. There is a need for greater transparency and accountability in government decision-making, as well as a focus on promoting the public interest and long-term economic growth.