There’s a lot you can do if you had Rs3.78 lakh crore — the “gains” the government could have made if it had not messed up the coal block allocations or given “undue benefits” to a private power producer.
Add the Rs1.76 lakh “loss” as said by the CAG in its report on the 2G scam, and the stuff the government could have done with this money is mind-boggling. Had it recovered Rs3.91 lakh crore (Rs 1.86 lakh crore from coal block allocation, Rs1.76 lakh crore from 2G and Rs29,000 crore from the ultra mega power projects), it could have wiped out India’s revenue deficit of the current fiscal in
one go and left Rs41,000 crore to spare.
This year’s revenue deficit was budgeted at Rs3,50,424 crore. Throw in the CAG’s “conservative estimate” of the Delhi International Airport Limited’s loss of Rs24,000 crore and the money in the kitty gets even bigger.
This essentially means that had the money not been lost, or had it been earned as the CAG says, the country would have enjoyed a better fiscal position.
At least it would not have to face the ignominy of international credit rating agencies downgrading India’s position. Of course, some will argue that had this money been recovered, then costs of telephone calls or power would have shot up. But the 3G spectrum auction clearly showed that despite high amounts dished out by telecom companies, the costs of services continued to remain low.
Alternatively, this money, if not used to deal with the revenue deficit, could have been pumped into a number of sectors that urgently needs attention. Take the ailing infrastructure sector and this amount could have been a one-time boon that would have India forget its “developing country” tag once and for all.
For instance, the Union ministry for surface transport and highway’s plan to construct 17,000 km of expressways are pending since 2009 for want of funds.
At a rate of Rs10,00,000 per kilometre, it would have cost a piffling amount of Rs170 crore to finish it off. In fact, the 17,000 km could have been done several times over with just a fraction of the money that the UPA government has lost (as estimated by the CAG).
The railway sector, plagued by accidents, pathetic passenger amenities, needs Rs1.4 lakh crore annually, according to an estimate of “Vision 2020”, a plan prepared by former railway minister Mamata Banerjee in 2009.
No significant development has taken place to date. In the long run, the railways runs the risk of running on high operating cost if no infrastructure push is given to support its operations. Imagine what the railways could have done with some of this money.
Then there are the social sector schemes. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, the Indira Awas
Yojana, the rural electrification programme, and many, many other schemes to provide basic drinking water, education and medical facilities to millions of people living below the poverty line.
Instead, while they are restricted to a measly Rs32 per day for their subsistence, the magical figure of Rs3.91 lakh crore will remain a chimera.