Herald: When Nero rode the bicycle, cut ribbons and chased wellness overseas
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When Nero rode the bicycle, cut ribbons and chased wellness overseas

10 Sep 2018 05:24am IST
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10 Sep 2018 05:24am IST

This Ganesh Chovth it will be another photo-finish for Goa Government. As rich ministers roll out pompous, futuristic sounding scientifically unproven processes, rich ministers ride green bikes, rich ministers get path-breaking healthcare for grievous diseases; many a poor and helpless Goenkars wait with baited breath for their salaries and payments for service rendered to the State. While the Neros of Goa undertake foreign trips, inaugurate global summits, pose with film stars, inaugurate projects and launch new ones, news trickles in of Goa Government promising to release salaries for several contract employees and clear payments of multiple government contractors today. This, after making a crisis payment of Rs 162 crore over the past one week for similar purposes. Somewhere behind the spit and polish, Goa Government does not have the money to spend that it claims to have. 

In the last week of February this year, Goa’s Public Debt for 2017-18 stood at Rs 13203.4 crore as revealed by Goa’s Finance Minister in the State Legislative Assembly. Five months later, he said in the same august house that “State's public debt as on March 31, 2018, is Rs 13,608 crore”. For an economy that updated its public debt figures by a whopping Rs 405 crore, isn’t the scenario questionable? Government insiders reveal that many of their contractors and suppliers face market ignominy because they have served the Government on credit and borrowings but have not been able to repay back since the past year – a legacy carried from the previous Government. Though only a right to information query or a legislative assembly question may possibly reveal this truth, there has been a significant number of instances of bad repayments landing up as police complaints in various police stations of Goa and other States and ruling party members dashing around in a damage control mode. Somewhere behind the Govt’s brave face is a failed bravado.

Between the March 2017 and March 2018, this Government has sold Rs 1700 crore worth of Government Bonds borrowing 11 times (almost every month) from the market. In 2018 (till date), it has sold more than Rs. 600 crore worth of Government Bonds already. And this trend of monthly borrowings of Rs 100-150 crore is expected to carry forward the trend of last year. And you, the people will have to repay back to our Government in some form. And why? Because these bonds will mature in 10 years time and probably you or your children will have to pay it back with over 7.5% interest. This isn’t a Government paying off bills of development. This is a Government that is paying for running its ruinous governance and paying to appease with doles. There is no science involved here. Just pure politics!

Look around you. Notice those miles and miles of widening and multiple laning of roads even in remote forests and mountains and those gigantic bridges being built to change the landscape of Goa? Who is paying for it? And the million dollar question, did we ask for it? As many Goans would be praying to Nideeshwaram, Ganesh’s avatar known for being the Bestower of Wealth; a majority of them would be wishing hard that the state does not sink into an unfathomable abyss of debts and borrowings. After all, they know that this Government is paying off its bills to them only because it is the festive season and a poor Government unable to pay its bills is bad politics. 

A couple of decades ago being an IIT alumnus politician was a fad in Goa. Goans dreamt of how well educated politicians could run this State, its economy better. However, as we saw such rule of the technically enabled has been more lethal for the State as that intellect has been used more for short-term political self-centredness rather than long-term empowerment of the State. As many Goans realise, the Government doles out their own hard earned in festive season but are actually pushing the State over the precipice of a massive debt trap.

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