‘Stop blaming Congress, check facts’

Imphal, Jun 22 (Agency) The BJP government in Manipur should not confuse the people by blaming the previous Congress governments as the cause of financial burden and all ills, Congress Spokesperson Ningombam Bupenda Meitei today said. Addressing a virtual media conference he said the BJP alleged that it started with a burden of Rs 8707 crores.

He said Congress led coalition governments, which governed from 2002 to 2017, under Okram Ibobi Singh, was committed to maintain fiscal discipline and management for the better economy of Manipur. In August 2005, the Congress government, had enacted the Manipur FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act to ensure prudence in fiscal management and fiscal stability of the state, he said. The States’ enactment/amendment of the FRBM Act, incorporating the targets prescribed by the Finance Commission, was a pre-condition for release of all State-specific grant and debt relief measures. He said from where the BJP gave the figure of Rs. 8707 crores. He said BJP neither gives the correct figures nor quotes a reference. The exact figure should have been Rs. 8807.82 crores as given by the CAG (The Comptroller and Auditor General of India) Report No. 1 of 2020, for the year ended 31st March, 2019.

BJP has been justifying its relentless increase in petrol and diesel prices in Manipur without even having an iota of meetings on reducing a single rupee from state’s VAT in a litre of petrol or diesel during a covid pandemic by giving the figure of Rs 8707 cr he said Fiscal liabilities can be seen for a long time and if we see 1999-2000, 2000-2001 and 2001-02 fiscal liabilities were listed as Rs. 1699 crores in 1999-2000, Rs. 2093 crores in 2000-01, Rs. 2198 crores in 2001-02 as per CAG report. It is a cumulative effect and the government is always in a continuum. The continuity is manifested through fiscal and budget management for a better economy, he said. If BJP blames the Congress government for Rs. 8807.82 crores, then should the next government in 2022 also blame the present BJP government for its financial liabilities in 2021-22 he asked. As per the CAG Report of 2020, the fiscal liabilities under the BJP government’s tenure were Rs. 9565.94 crores in 2017-18 and Rs. 10,463.92 crores in 2018-19. In 2021-22, if the continuing increasing trend remains, will not be less than Rs. 13,000 crores. Therefore, the arguments raised by the BJP on financial liabilities are against the principle of continuum of government. The BJP must learn and appreciate the fiscal discipline of the previous Congress governments he said. The BJP also portrays as if the Congress government did have borrowings that had created a financial burden on its subsequent government as of today. He reminded that as per the CAG Report of 2020, BJP government borrowed Rs. 2,077.73 crores in 2017-18 and Rs. 4654.93 crores in 2018-19. So, in the entire 5 financial years the total borrowing by the BJP government would be Rs. 16,831.65 crores he said. How can such a heavy financial burden on the people of Manipur be a characteristic of being a pro-people and people’s friendly government he asked. BJP also blames Congress for the health crisis during Covid pandemic.

He said if Congress government did not bring the central status to RIMS and establish JNIMS as a state owned medical college, then the fight against Covid pandemic would have been further worsened . He reminded me that the BJP government has not built any new government hospital. He reminded that the previous Congress governments built District Hospitals in districts of Thoubal, Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Senapati, Chandel, etc., and many of them were 100 bedded hospitals. The Congress governments had built Sub-District Hospitals/ Community Health Centres. All CHCs, PHCs and PH Sub-Centres were established during Congress governments in the state. Instead of strengthening the health infrastructure set up by the previous Congress governments, the present BJP government displays its lack of health infrastructure by comparing the number of ICUs equipped with ventilators available during the Congress government and the present BJP government during Covid pandemic.

He said BJP must realise that Covid pandemic mandates any government, whether of Congress or not, to procure any new medical equipment to combat Covid pandemic. He asked how many crores of rupees have been spent by the BJP government in procuring ICU beds equipped with ventilators since 2017. Instead of BJP criticizing the previous Congress government’s health infrastructure, the BJP government must create its own governmental health infrastructure during Covid pandemic. He said as Congress governments always worked to maintain fiscal discipline under FRBM, recruitment took place as a result of a long ban on employment, long-awaited backlog vacancies and cumulative vacancies, which were not being filled after the retirement of many state government employees. The employment was necessitated to provide manpower to prevent the governance from the collapse of state government departments and machinery. The employment was not due to creation of new posts but to fill the vacant posts, as a part of a minimal number of employees with an objective of not violating fiscal discipline, he said.