India

Telangana government again raises demand for hike in FRBM limit

State suffers ₹4,100 crore revenue loss in May itself, Harish Rao says at GST Council meet

The cash strapped Telangana government has once again raised the demand for increase in its borrowing limit from four to five per cent of the GSDP under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) to give a push to its borrowing capacity.

The demand was made by Finance Minister T. Harish Rao at the 44th GST Council meeting held virtually under the chairmanship of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Mr. Rao had made the same plea at the last GST Council meeting to tackle the impact on State’s finances due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown and slowdown in the economic activity. But, the Centre was unmoved.

Mr. Rao observed at today’s meeting that increase in the FRBM borrowing limits would spur the State and country’s economic activity and would improve employment generation. He explained that Telangana had suffered revenue loss of about ₹4,100 crore due to lockdown in May month alone.

He brought to the notice of the GST Council that Telangana’s finances were sailing through the rough weather due to the lockdown for over a month now and slowdown in the economic activity due to the COVID-19 impact. The minister’s office stated that the Union Minister had responded to the State’s request and assured to examine it.

Mr. Harish Rao further appealed to the GST Council to take up free vaccination to all sections (age groups) of people at the earliest to save lives and also to contain the impact of COVID-19 on the economic activity. He suggested import of Covid vaccine from overseas to take up planned and speedy vaccination on a massive scale since the required quantities of vaccines was not being made in the country.

Speeding up massive vaccination exercise was the dire necessity as the public health experts and scientists were forecasting/warning the inevitability of third wave of novel coronavirus spread in the country. The first two waves of the infectious virus spread had battered the country’s economy badly and it was only through massive vaccination it could be brought on the rails again.

The Telangana Finance Minister supported the proposal of Group of Ministers led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma to reduce the tax on Covid-19 essentials such as medical oxygen, oxy meters, hand sanitisers, ventilators and other medical equipment used in the treatment of the virus infection.

Mr. Harish Rao attended the virtual meeting from B.R.K.R. Bhavan, the makeshift Secretariat of Telangana, along with Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar and senior officials from Finance, Revenue, Medical and Health and other departments.


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