Andhra Pradesh is estimated to have suffered a minimum loss of Rs 21,500 crore because of the COVID-19 pandemic so far, according to a statement released by the YSRCP government. The pandemic has led to an overreliance on debt, it said, while declaring that the total state government debt as on March 31, 2021, was Rs 3,48,998.11 crore. This indicates a rise of about 34.7% in the state’s debt since March 2019.
Over the past two years, the YSRCP government has been delivering several welfare schemes as promised in its election campaign. Political analysts, while saying that these schemes have been beneficial for the people and are one of the reasons the YSRCP swept to power, have also raised concerns over how the already cash-strapped state can continue implementing these schemes.
As of March 2019, the state’s total debt stood at Rs 2,53,928 crore, and an additional Rs 6,000 crore was expended by the TDP government in early April 2019 in the run-up to the Assembly elections, the YSRCP government stated. From March 2014, when the state’s total debt was Rs 1,11,528.00, it had gone up by more than 120% by March 2019, the statement said, claiming that this was more than double the percentage rise in the Union government debt for that period.
“The unjust bifurcation, the nonfulfillment of the commitments made to the State, the misgovernance and policy paralysis during the five-year period 2014-19 has resulted in the State facing overwhelming odds,” the statement read.
Estimating the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown, the government said that revenue loss on account of the state’s share in Central taxes would be around Rs 7,780 crore, loss on account of state’s own revenues around Rs 6,961 crore, taking the total revenue loss to Rs 14,742 crores. “The additional expenditure that is entirely on account of the Covid-19 pandemic is close to Rs 6,700 crores,” the statement said, pegging the total losses to around Rs 21,500 crore, and adding that if evaluated, the loss on account of several lost opportunities would additionally run into several thousands of crores.
Blaming the previous TDP government for “misgovernance” and various “additional liabilities” on the state, including power sector corporations’ debt, the YSRCP government stated that the servicing cost of the state’s debt rose to more than Rs 25,000 crores in 2014-19. Adding that the economic growth in India was “dismal” even before the pandemic, the statement said, “It is indeed a fact that the State had to borrow heavily owing to the reasons described above. However, it is important to note that, unlike the previous Government, the present Government did not borrow recklessly,” while claiming that the percentage increase in debt over the past two years “does not substantially exceed that of the Central Government Debt.”
Earlier this year, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had asked senior officials to focus on revenue-generating sources in order to fund Navaratnalu and other welfare schemes. Jagan had asked officials to expedite mining works by the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and to obtain permissions to sell stocks of red sanders lying in the state.