2018-19 fiscal: Less than 2 months to go, 63% of development budget remains unused in Maharashtrahttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/2018-19-fiscal-less-than-2-months-to-go-63-of-development-budget-remains-unused-in-maharashtra-5573250/

2018-19 fiscal: Less than 2 months to go, 63% of development budget remains unused in Maharashtra

Going into an election season, senior government officials admitted that the poor utilisation of the development expenditure so far is worrying the government.

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The Devendra Fadnavis led government utilised only 37 per cent of the development budget in the first 10 months of the year. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

Nearly 63 per cent of the budget for development and welfare schemes for 2018-19 is lying unused in the state coffers.

With less than two months left in the ongoing fiscal, an amount of Rs 92,623 crore of the total scheme expenditure of Rs 1.47 lakh crore remains unused, reveal the latest official estimates indicated on Maharashtra government’s live online budget monitoring system, referred to as Budget Estimation, Allocation and Monitoring System.

In other words, only 37 per cent of the development budget has been utilised by the state government in the first 10 months of the year.

The utilisation numbers, which account for expenditure incurred on various heads from April 1, 2018 to Tuesday, do not account for flows for public account transactions such as provident funds deposits etc.

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Going into an election season, senior government officials admitted that the poor utilisation of the development expenditure so far is worrying the government.

Scheme expenditure refers to expenditure incurred for financing major government schemes. It includes all capital expenditure. It does not include payment of salaries, loan payments, pensions and other recurring expenditure.

At the start of the year, the government had enhanced allocations for capital investments in farm intensive, employment and transportation sectors to push growth and shore up revenue.

An estimated Rs 37,477 crore was set aside for capital expenditure in 2018-19. But the latest statistics show that Rs 19,410 crore or 52 per cent of this amount remains unutilised.

With the state facing a severe drought, the state government has understandably spent the highest amount for capital works in the irrigation and flood control sector, where Rs 5,431 crore have so far been spent. But the government had set aside over Rs 8,000 crore for the sector at the beginning of the year.

The government has also spent Rs 5,087.45 crore on the development of new roads. Incidentally, the urban development sector, where infrastructure works have been a thrust area for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, has just seen capital investment worth Rs 701 crore.

A senior state official, who wished not to be named, also admitted that the new development schemes planned for welfare of the backward communities and deprived sections have suffered delays.

Another senior official admitted that the ‘poor’ spending ratio of development funds from the state’s kitty was a letdown, especially when the government has been targeting off-budget borrowings for funding big ticket infrastructure projects citing a rising public debt.

By the end of March this year, the state’s total debt burden is projected to cross the Rs 4.61 lakh-crore mark. To push capital spend in the final leg, the government has withdrawn the cap on fund release for scheme expenditure.

“The capital investment to receipts ratio is below par at the moment. The government is keen to better this. We have now released 100 per cent of the budgeted amount for scheme expenditure by departments,” said a senior official.

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Officials, however, expected the utilisation numbers this month. “There is a rush to kickstart new development works before the election code of conduct (for the Lok Sabha) polls kicks in,” an official said.