Punjab Fails To Plan Resources For Uncovered Spendings
PUNJAB FAILS TO PLAN RESOURCES FOR UNCOVERED SPENDINGS
Chandigarh June 10:
Punjab government has failed to evolve a strategy for additional resource mobilisation (ARM) so far to meet the uncovered plan expenditure even as the first quarter of the current fiscal is coming to an end.
To accomplish its plan of Rs 6,210 crore, the government requires an ARM of Rs 1,000 crore besides mobilisation of an additional amount of Rs 2,000 crore on account of pay panel's recommendations.
Senior Punjab officials, including chief, finance and planning secretaries met the CM and the finance minister here on Monday to identify government priorities in the face of acute resource crunch and examine the available options for ARM.
Since the meeting was inconclusive, the officers decided to meet again on June 14. However, the final decision on steps for ARM would be clinched by early July after the civic polls to 100-odd municipalities, which were slated for June 30.
"The state has managed to not to go overdraft for a single day. Even it has not opted for the ways and means to meet its expenses so far during the first quarter of the current fiscal," said secretary, finance, DS Kalha.
Perhaps the inflow of tax revenue has come to the rescue of the state government. The state has earned an additional VAT of Rs 240 crore on account of wheat procurement this year. which is 30% higher than last year.
Besides, the MSP too has been jacked to Rs 1,000 per quintal, resulting in substantial increase in purchase tax on wheat. Also, the proceeds from stamps and registrations have shown buoyancy during the first two months though the certified figures on this account were not available.
However, Kalha said that the finance commissioner (revenue) had conveyed him of the substantial increase on this account over the proceeds of 2007-08, though it might not be as high as it was in 2006-07. Besides, the salary bill in the first two month is low because of extension of various plan and non-plan posts is awaited. This too helps, albeit not significantly, to defer the fiscal crisis.
However, the state would be in fiscal doldrums in the next couple of months if it failed to gather political courage to take bold initiatives/reforms. The government had failed on this account last year too as against the proposed ARM of Rs 600 crore, it had just raised Rs 50 crore. In face of the acute financial crisis, the government has prioritised its expenditure. And it won't default on contributing its share to various centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) and externally aided projects.
Moreover, social security is another priority area so there won't be death of funds for schemes like old age pensions, shagun scheme and those aimed at promoting education among scheduled castes and backward classes. Perhaps, no government would like to err on this account as the Lok Sabha elections are less than a year away.