Karnataka – which is expected to have a debt of over Rs 4 lakh crore at the end of this fiscal year – will become a revenue deficit state if the Centre does not extend the GST compensation period, Congress MP G C Chandrashekar said on Friday in the Rajya Sabha.
Participating in a debate on Budget 2021, Chandrashekar pointed out that the GST compensation provided to Karnataka since 2018-19 was very low despite the state being the third highest tax generator in the country.
At the time of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on July 1, 2017, the Centre had promised to compensate states for loss of revenue for five years at an agreed formula.
Chandrashekar said Karnataka is in a bad financial situation as its debt is rising every year and is expected to cross Rs 4 lakh crore this fiscal year from Rs 3.27 lakh crore in 2019-20.
The state”s transportation department is struggling to pay salaries of its staff and could pay half salary in December 2020 and is yet to decide for January, he said, adding that in the current situation it can only afford fuel for buses.
Even the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is considering borrowing Rs 250 crore, while the transportation department has already mortgaged BMTC head office and is mulling mortgaging more assets, he added.
“If this situation continues and the GST compensation period is not extended, then Karnataka will move from revenue surplus state to revenue deficit state. Then money will have to be borrowed to pay salaries and administrative costs leaving development activities,” Chandrashekar noted.
Expressing concern over low GST compensation given to Karnataka, the Congress leader said the state had contributed Rs 79,000 crore GST revenue in 2018-19 but in return got only Rs 10,754 crore as compensation. Similarly in 2019-20, the state contributed Rs 84,000 crore GST revenue and received Rs 16,628 crore compensation.
For 2020-21, the revised estimate shows GST compensation to Karnataka at Rs 7,900 crore, less than Rs 28,000 crore budgeted as GST divulsion, he said.
Further, he said the government has not given the special grant of Rs 5,495 crore for 2020-21 despite being recommended by the 15th Finance Commission to offset the losses.
While noting that the Centre has failed to fulfill the promises it made, the Congress leader said suburban rail project to ease Bengaluru traffic was announced in 2018 but work has not yet commenced. The promise of conducting banking exams in regional languages has also not been kept. PTI