Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019 13:00 [IST]
Last Update: Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019 07:31 [IST]
GANGTOK,: The SKM government is tabling a white paper in coming Budget Session documenting and attesting how above Rs. 8000 crore debt was bequeathed by the previous SDF government on the people of Sikkim in a period of 25 years, said SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling on Tuesday.
“Ever since Chief Minister P.S. Golay submitted to the Centre about the Rs. 8000 crore and above loan amassed by the previous SDF government in 25 years, the SDF party has been maintaining that the total loan is only Rs. 6,000 crore and that Sikkim has the lowest loan in the nation. Don’t worry, the true picture will come up when the Budget Session starts on July 29. Our government will be placing a white paper in the Assembly on the loans taken by the SDF government in 25 years. We will place facts and figures in the Assembly on funds allocated by the Centre, funds misused and the loans taken by the SDF government,” said Khaling in a press meet here.
Khaling ‘appealed’ former Chief Minister and SDF president Pawan Chamling to attend the Budget Session ‘under any circumstances’ so that he can take part in the discussions regarding the white paper submitted by the treasury bench. There will be accounting of the funds spent and received by the SDF government in 25 years and it is apt that Chamling should also attend and make his statements on the white paper, he said.
Chamling has already taken an ‘ideological stand’ of not to attend the Assembly sessions to protest against the appointment of SKM president P.S. Golay as the Chief Minister of Sikkim.
The former Chief Minister has also been maintaining that the loans taken by the Sikkim government amounts to Rs. 6,000 crore only and the total figure is from the year that Sikkim became a part of the Indian Union in 1975. He also asserts that the loan on Sikkim government is the lowest in the country.
In response, Khaling said ‘even after accepting the loan figure of Rs. 6,000 cr of the SDF party’, the amount is humongous for a State like Sikkim which has a population of only 6.10 lakh as per the 2011 Census. “If we divide the loan amount given by the SDF by the population of Sikkim then it means that there is a debt of nearly Rs. 1 lakh per person in Sikkim. Loans taken by the State government are reclaimed from the schemes and funds allocated by the Centre for the people. The per capita debt of Sikkim is the highest in the country,” he said.
SKM spokesperson Sonam Venchungpa said the per capita debt of Sikkim is a matter of huge concern and questioned where the amount derived from the loans were spent by the previous SDF government. The funds went to one percent of the population of Sikkim who propped the SDF government for 25 years and became the super-rich population of Sikkimese society, he said.
“Our endeavour through the white paper is to find where the funds were spent and misused. This is the first step from the SKM government to revitalise the Sikkimese economy and work towards bringing a true change in the system as per our party’s founding principle,” said Venchungpa.
Khaling also countered the recent statement given by Chamling on there being a ‘new Chief Minister’ in Sikkim after six months.
“I want to correct the former Chief Minister. The people’s government will be more strengthened after six months. Our seats in the Assembly will be increased to 19 seats,” said the SKM spokesperson.
By-election is taking place for three constituencies in Sikkim within the next five months.
To a question, Khaling said the enquiry by the SKM government on hydel power projects sanctioned by the previous SDF government is on the final stage. We will place the details in the Assembly, he said. Preliminary findings show that the State-owned Teesta Stage III 1200 Mw hydel power project was about to become a NPA (Non Performing Asset) under the SDF government, he said.
“We have the immediate challenge to save the Teesta Stage III project from becoming a NPA. The State government has a 60% share in the project. It was surprising to know that the SDF government had hired six officers with an annual salary of more than Rs. 2 crore,” said Khaling.
The SKM government had received some criticism regarding extension given to Arvind Kumar as the chairman of Teesta Stage III project.
Asked on this, Khaling said there was some misunderstanding.
“Arvind Kumar completed his service in the Energy & Power department and was not given extension there. However, we had to retain him as the chairman of the Teesta Stage III project since we need experts for saving the project from becoming a NPA. He has been retained with a 60% cut in his previous salary. It is part of our effort to save the Teesta Stage III project,” said the SKM spokesperson.
Regarding the question on CBI investigations in Sikkim, Khaling said the SKM party is committed to its promise of bringing the CBI to probe into the corruption allegations against the former Chief Minister and former ministers of the previous SDF government.
“We are sincere on this promise. Right now, we are working to ensure that there are no possible escape routes from the CBI probe. Concerned files are missing from the Chief Minister’s Office and the offices of the previous ministers. The files are crucial for the CBI probe and as per records, the files were last seen in the Chief Minister’s Office and the offices of the ministers. We will register a FIR on the missing files and take up the investigations,” said the SKM spokesperson.
The SKM government completed one month on June 27 with the SDF party contending that the Golay government failed to live up to its promises.
“The SDF spokespersons are showing our election manifesto and saying that this was not done…that was not done. We have just completed one month. We have a full five years’ time and we will fulfil our promises before going to the people again,” said Khaling.
The SKM spokesperson dismissed the claims made by the SDF party that Chamling has been accorded SPG protection by the Centre. There has been no communication from the Ministry of Home Affairs to the State government on this, he said. If Chamling feels there is a security threat to his life, he can write to the State government, we will provide the required security to him and we are always ready on this, he said.
Khaling contended that Chamling, during his recent Delhi trip, was not given an appointment by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“It has been reported in social media and mainstream media that Chamling met the Prime Minister in Delhi. However the photo used by the SDF social media was an old photo. As per our enquiries, Chamling has not been able to meet the Prime Minister so far,” said the SKM spokesperson.