Fund crunch pushes Faleiro on slippery ground

| 11 December 1998 11:49 IST

The newly formed Congress government in Goa may not last long if the BJP-led coalition government at the centre does not make funds available for the tourist state.

It all depends now upon the "dinner diplomacy" of chief minister Luizinho Faleiro, who hosted special dinner for the members of the finance commission and planning commission at Goa Sadan during his recent Delhi visit.

His meetings with prime minister Atel Bihari Vajpayee and finance minister Yeshwant Sinha appears to have turned fruitless since he has been told that Goa cannot be considered an isolated case when the whole national economy is in a bad shape.

As the centre had turned down the request made by his predecessor Dr Wilfred de Souza to sanction one-time grant of Rs 150 crore, the BJP-supported coalition government of de Souza had succeeded in getting a green signal for SLR-based borrowings to the tune of Rs 150 crore.

But the Congress now fears that the BJP's central leaders may not push ahead the proposal with the same initiative since the Congress has pulled down the coalition government in the state, supported by their party. Even a delay of few months may however affect the state economy severely.

"Our financial situation is quite bad", admits deputy chief minister Dayanand Narvekar, who now handles finance portfolio in the new government. As de Souza's planning minister, he had earlier threatened the prime minister to wage state-wise agitation, alleging that Goa was considered a colony of Delhi.

Sticking to the same arguments Narvekar had made in the previous government, Faleiro has also urged the centre to increase its share in the mining royalty from Rs nine crore to Rs 26 crore as Goa contributes over Rs 100 crore to the centre towards royalty alone.

Instead of fully depending upon the central assistance, the Congress government has also sought a loan of Rs 20 crore from the Goa State Co-operative Bank, while also concentrating on strengthening the revenue generation methods.

Pointing out that Goa loses around Rs 20 crore annually due to evasion of sales tax and excise duties, Narvekar now plans to raise at least Rs five crore in three months by tightening the revenue collection machinery.

The new government has come to power through defections and is surviving with a majority of only one in the 40-member House. As many members defected and joined the Congress to seize influential and "lucrative" portfolios, lack of funds is bound to leave them dissatisfied, which may ultimately result into destabilising yet another government.

News is already making rounds here that Faleiro is also trying to seek permission from the party high command to recommend dissolution of the House and early polls to overcome the political uncertainty and economic crisis, as Congress would remain a caretaker government till fresh polls are held.

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