Already saddled with a whopping net debt of over Rs 25,000 crore, Goa government is now eyeing a Rs 2000-crore loan under a bilateral Indo-Japan deal -- JICA -- to fund its power sector infrastructure boost.
Power Minister Ramkrishna Sudin Dhavalikar said, the Goa government will take a Rs 2,000-crore JICA loan to finance the power department’s underground cabling, substations and meter installations to ensure 100 per-cent metering.
Dhavalikar said, while taking the loan to fund infrastructure work is fine, the government also needs to have a repayment plan in place.
“JICA loan is a 20-year loan at 1.5% interest cost. Plus the first 10 years there is a repayment moratorium,” Dhavalikar said, adding that Goa’s performance in utilising the JICA loan for sewerage and water supply work was “good”.
“We have also started repayment promptly,” Dhavalikar said, suggesting that getting the JICA loan he is eyeing for the power infrastructure push would be facile.
The previous water and sewerage project funded by a JICA loan was mired in controversy and several time and cost overruns.
Two former chief ministers -- Digambar Kamat and Churchill Alemao -- are facing trial for serious corruption charges and stand accused of accepting kick-backs from a US firm that bagged a contract under the JICA project.
Come to be known as ‘Louis Burger’ bribery scandal, after the name of the firm alleged to have made the payouts, Kamat as Chief Minister and Alemao as PWD Minister in 2009 onwards, are accused of receiving money from the firm.
While Alemao did some time in jail, Kamat on the other hand, had got pre-arrest bail.
Meanwhile, Dhavalikar said the revenue collection from electricity billing has improved by almost 45 per cent.
“Yet we have about 10 per-cent loss (T&D) which we can concentrate on. I’m not saying we will recover all the 10% (T&D losses). But even 5-6 percent of these losses if we recover, it will improve substantially the financial profile of the Electricity department.
He said, as far as 100 per cent metering across Goa is concerned, work had started long ago and that both his predecessors -- Nilesh Cabral and Aleixo Sequeira -- had done good work on it.