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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Maharashtra: 63% of development budget lies unused

According to the latest estimates indicated on Maharashtra government’s live online Budget monitoring system (Budget Estimation, Allocation and Monitoring System), only 37 per cent of the development Budget has been utilised so far.

Written by Sandeep Ashar | Mumbai | Published: February 23, 2020 2:53:19 am
Maharashtra development budget, Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra government, mumbai news, maharashtra news, indian express news Finance Minister Ajit Pawar is set to present the new government’s first Budget on March 6. (File photo)

Just as the Uddhav Thackeray government readies for its maiden Budget, Maharashtra’s poor Budget spending ratio remains a worry for the state administration. Nearly 63 per cent of Maharashtra’s Budget for development work for 2019-20 is lying unused in the state coffers. With just over a month left in the ongoing fiscal, an estimated Rs 1.01 lakh crore of the state’s total budgeted scheme expenditure of Rs 1.61 lakh crore remains unused.

According to the latest estimates indicated on Maharashtra government’s live online Budget monitoring system (Budget Estimation, Allocation and Monitoring System), only 37 per cent of the development Budget has been utilised so far.

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.

The utilisation numbers, which account for expenditure incurred on various heads from April 1, 2019 to February 22, 2019, does not account for flows for public account transactions such as provident fund deposits.

Finance Minister Ajit Pawar is set to present the new government’s first Budget on March 6. In a financial year that saw two back-to-back elections in the state, senior government officials admitted that the poor utilisation of the development expenditure so far was worrying.

Going into an election year, the then Fadnavis government had enhanced allocations for capital investments in farm intensive, employment and transportation sectors, and welfare measures to push growth and shore up revenues. While an estimated Rs 74,377 crore was set aside for capital expenditure in 2019-20, a total of Rs 1,60,888.619 crore was earmarked in all towards scheme expenditure. Latest statistics show that while Rs 25,214 crore of the capital expenditure has been realised, the amount of scheme expenditure realised or authorised stood at Rs 60,385 crore. Of the Rs 1.61 lakh crore amount budgeted for, statistics show that about 60 per cent or Rs 96,319 crore has so far been released by the finance department.

Sources pointed out that the imposition of the model code of conduct for the two elections, and the post Assembly poll political drama, which had seen the state slip into Presidential rule, had adversely impacted the spending ratio. Officials, meanwhile, 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 key big ticket infrastructure projects citing a rising public debt. By the end of the financial year, the state’s total debt burden is projected to cross the Rs 4.72 lakh crore mark.

“The capital investment to receipts ratio is below par at the moment. The government is keen to better this,” said a senior official. Some officials, however, are hopeful of improvement in the utilisation numbers. “There is normally a rush to book expenditure in the final two months of the year,” one of them said.

In an election year, the state administration has understandably better spending ratios for welfare measures undertaken by departments connected to the social sector. The School Education department has so far spent Rs 46,031 crore out of the budgeted amount of Rs 60,829 crore (76 per cent), while the Women and Child Development department and the OBC-Vimukt Jati Nomadic Tribe has so far spent 68 per cent and 66 per cent of its budgeted amount, respectively. The Home department, too, has utilised 72 per cent of the scheme expenditure allocated to it. In sharp contrast, capital intensive departments including Public Works (7 per cent) and Water Resources (11 per cent) are lagging in actual expenditure. According to statistics, the Housing department has recorded the worst spend ratio, having utilised only Rs 27 crore out of Rs 7,198 crore earmarked for it. The Environment, and Food and Civil Supplies, too, have so far spent just 2 per cent and 4 per cent of their budgeted amounts, statistics show. With the new government implementing subsidised food canteen scheme, the expenditure incurred by Food and Civil Supplies department is expected to shoot up.

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