Punjab’s Rs 47,107 cr debt: 57% used for interest payment


Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, responding to a query from Governor Banwari Lal Purohit, has revealed that the state accrued a debt of Rs 47,107 crore since the start of their tenure. Shockingly, over half of this, approximately 57%, was used for interest payments on existing state debts.
The inquiry from Governor Purohit came after a prompt from Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa regarding the state’s financial status. Between April 1, 2022, and August 31, 2023, the state’s debt rose by Rs 47,107.6 crore, encompassing various loans like market loans, NABARD loans, and others. Out of this, Rs 32,447.11 crore was added in the fiscal year 2022-23, with the remaining accrued in the subsequent five months. A significant portion, Rs 27,016 crore, was channelled to interest payments on prior debts.
The opposition, especially the Congress, criticised the AAP government for its debt management. As of the end of 2021-22, Punjab’s debt stood at Rs 2.82 lakh crore, anticipated to grow to Rs 3.47 lakh crore by March 2024. However, CM Mann defended his government, stating that their focus was to resolve longstanding issues inherited from past governments. The borrowed money, along with revenue, was directed to previously neglected organisations and new developmental projects.
Highlighting the improved revenue receipts, CM Mann pointed out investments made and arrears cleared, including those related to the sixth pay commission, power subsidies, and aid for farmers. He stressed on the hurdles faced due to the existing debt load. In his letter’s conclusion, CM Mann appealed to Governor Purohit to push for the release of the pending Rural Development Fund (RDF) and proposed a debt repayment moratorium spanning at least five years for Punjab. This debt debate is just another chapter in the ongoing political tussle between Governor Purohit and CM Mann.