Over-the-top offers will prove detrimental
Political parties in Telangana State are in an overdrive unmindful of consequences The concessions and benefits they are offering to the people to keep them in good humour are sure to knock the bottom out of the States coffers
Political parties in Telangana State are in an overdrive unmindful of consequences. The concessions and benefits they are offering to the people to keep them in good humour are sure to knock the bottom out of the State's coffers.
For instance, take a look at the TRS manifesto. Caretaker Chief Minister has offered to waive agriculture loans up to Rs 1 lakh, increase Rythu Bandhu subsidy up to Rs 10,000 per year per farmer, provide unemployment dole of Rs 3,016 per month to each unemployed youth, up the social security pensions to Rs 2,016 and lower the age limit to make one eligible to 57 from 65 years to increase the number of beneficiaries, will cause a haemorrhage to the State's finances on an unprecedented scale. All these measures are not productive in the sense that they are not directed at creating any asset but only to get voters on the side of TRS ahead of elections to Assembly on December 7.
Quick on the uptake, the Congress leaders said the TRS manifesto was a poor copy of its own promises made thus far and that it had stolen ideas from them. The Congress' promise on crop loan waiver is even more outrageous. It has offered to waive loans up to Rs. 2 lakh at one go, apart from offering other freebies while the BJP came up with a strange offer of reimbursing rent of those who are living in rented houses up to Rs 5,000 per family.
These outrageous promises are not only not conducive for the economy of the State to grow but also would make the people get used to them and behave accordingly in future. There are reports that already the farmers are wondering about the cut-off date for waiver of crop loans by the TRS government and many farmers, knowing the pulse of the parties, have raised loans from banks even though they did not need them with sole intent of pocketing the money. Those who have taken loans already are just sitting out, as they know whichever government comes to power, their loans are sure to be waived.
According to one estimate, at the rate of Rs 1 lakh per farmer, the government would have to shell out Rs 22,000 crore and if the Congress comes to power it would be double the amount, a whopping Rs 44,000 crore. The Congress is emphatic that it would waive loans up to Rs 2 lakh at one go which means that not much would be left for any other productive work or welfare programmes in its first year of governance, assuming that it would come to power.
The TRS government took four years to keep its word of waiving loans up to Rs 1 lakh loan to 35 lakh farmers. It had worked out to more than Rs 16,000 crore, and now Chandrashekar Rao says the similar loan amount would be waived in just two or three instalments and the number of farmers now is even more. He is emphatic that it would not be difficult since his government has acquired necessary wherewithal to implement loan waiver scheme.
The Rythu Bandhu is another scheme which is going to be a major drain on the State's finances. Chandrashekar Rao had no qualms in raising the subsidy payable under Rythu Bandhu to Rs 10,000 from Rs 8,000 per year which means that the State would have to pay up to R 13,000 crore next year. With even the Congress-led Grand Alliance also promising similar hike, whoever becomes the Chief Minister would have to spend sleepless nights as the welfare schemes which once used to be limited to the poorest of the poor would now become an albatross around the government's neck.
Sanity should return to whichever party that comes to power from next year and revisit the decisions no matter how difficult it might be as it is bound to trigger a political backlash. In fact, it would be in the interests of the people who are being offered freebies now. Let one earn every rupee one gets. In fact, Indians are hard workers. Don't make them lazy with the doles.