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West Bengal’s public debt is around 4.9 lakh crores, not 400 lakh crores

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A post claiming West Bengal has a public debt of Rs. 400,31,900 crores (400 lakh crores) is being shared widely on social media. Through this article let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.

The archived version of the post can be seen here

Claim: West Bengal has a public debt of Rs. 400,31,900 crores (400 lakh crores)

Fact: As per RBI, total outstanding liabilities of West Bengal for 2019 stood at Rs. 4,04,735.9 crores. Whereas the as per the 2020 revised estimates and 2021 budget estimates total outstanding liabilities of West Bengal stood at Rs. 4,47,602.3 crores and Rs. 4,90,647.3 crores (around 4.9 lakh crores). Hence the claim made in the post is MISLEADING.

According to the data available on the RBI website, total outstanding liabilities of West Bengal for 2019 stood at Rs. 4,04,735.9 crores. Whereas the as per the 2020 revised estimates and 2021 budget estimates total outstanding liabilities of West Bengal stood at Rs. 4,47,602.3 crores and Rs. 4,90,647.3 crores.

There are few other states like UP & Maharashtra whose quantum of outstanding liabilities are more than West Bengal. However, the quantum of liabilities does not show the actual picture of the economy. Debt-to-GDP ratio which measures the financial leverage of an economy gives the true picture of the economy. Lower the debt-to-GDP ratio better the financial health of the state as it indicates the ability of the state to pay back its debt. As per RBI, for the year 2019 total outstanding liabilities as a percentage of GSDP of West Bengal stood at 37.1. According to the 2020 (RE) and 2021 (BE) the same stood at 35.7 & 34.7. However West Bengal is one among the major states which has a higher debt-to-GDP ratio, which is way more than the limit prescribed by the FRBM Act.

Though the quantum of outstanding liabilities and Debt-to-GSDP ratio of West Bengal is high compared to other major states, the total debt of WB is not Rs. 400,31,900 crores (400 lakh crores) as claimed in the post. Total debt of WB for the year 2019 stood at Rs. 4,04,735.9 crores.

To sum it up, West Bengal do not have this whopping amount of public debt of about 400 lakh crores.

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