Tripura has an outstanding loan quantum of Rs 21,687.07 crore under different heads, Finance Minister Pranajit Singha Roy said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a media briefing on his government’s decision to provide a hiked festival grant to state government employees, Roy said the current loan quantum involves interest-free loans, soft loans etc.
His predecessor, Jishnu Devvarma, who was also the deputy chief minister, had said in 2021 that Tripura is under a loan burden of Rs 3,493.98 crore, including market loans, loans for NABARD, NCDC, state plan scheme loans and non-plan loans. Debbarma had also said that 3.02 per cent of the Budget’s resources were spent to repay outstanding loans.
Roy Thursday said annually, the state government pays an interest of Rs 1,373.52 crore and Rs 991.66 crore towards the principal amount of the loans.
He said state governments need to take loans from time to time based on necessities in order to run as per the system. That said, Roy pointed out that the BJP-led state government inherited a loan burden of Rs 12,902.73 crore when it took over from the erstwhile Left Front rulers in 2018 after decimating 25 years of Communist rule.
Roy also defended his government’s fiscal policy and said the erstwhile Left rulers had passed their last Budget for 2017-18 of Rs 15,959.56 crore while the incumbent BJP-led government has floated a Budget of Rs 26,892.76 crore and has worked to increase the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) from Rs 43,716 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 74,100 crore in 2022-23.
“Tripura’s GSDP has hiked by nearly 70 per cent compared to 2017-18. Development is our main objective,” the finance minister said.
He highlighted his government’s initiatives to procure funds from the central government, different government recognised bodies and said many of the loans secured by the state are interest-free.
On a different issue, Roy said his government has decided to hike festival grants by Rs 300 and provide the benefit to all government employees ahead of the Durga Puja festivities. Providing festival grants is a long standing tradition in addition to a festival advance, which is deducted in phases from an employee’s salary in the latter months.
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The state government would be providing Rs 36 crore for the festival grant. The amount was Rs 30 crore till last year.
An estimated 1,97,176 employees, Anganwadi workers and helpers, Daily Rated Workers, contractual employees would be benefitted by the move, the minister informed.
The state government provides festival grants during Durga Puja, Christmas, Garia Puja, Buddha Purnima, Eid-ul-Zoha, Eid-ul-Fitr, Bengali New Year, Mahavir Jayanti and Guru Nanak’s birthday to support people from different communities to observe their festivities in a smoother way.