The declining share of capital expenditure in Maharashtra’s total annual spending plan is worrying the state’s fiscal managers. Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Wednesday admitted in the Legislative Assembly that rising revenue expenditure had chained growth in public sector capital investment. According to the BJP government’s white paper on finances, which was issued in 2015, the capital expenditure at one point in 2004-05 had accounted for 17.2 per cent of the total budgeted expenditure. The government has estimated that this would come down to just 9.88 per cent in 2018-19.
While replying to a discussion on the budget, Mungantiwar pointed out that the state’s spending on salaries, pensions and interests on borrowings would account for nearly 58 per cent of the state’s estimated total spend in 2018-19. He admitted that spending on these was much less in neighbouring states such as Gujarat and Karnataka. “We spent a significant amount on (employee) welfare schemes. I must admit that the share of capital expenditure in the Budget has come down and we must improve that position,” Mungantiwar said.
For 2018-19, the state government has declared a total expenditure plan of Rs 3.39 lakh crore. Out of which, only Rs 37, 477 crore have been set aside for public sector capital investment. In 2017-18, the total capital spend expected by year-end is Rs 33,614 crore, while the revenue expenditure is anticipated Rs 2.72 lakh crore. In 2018-19, the revenue expenditure is estimated to further balloon Rs 3.01 lakh crore. But hitting out at the Opposition, the Finance Minister pointed out that back in 2012 when the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government was still in power, expenditure on salaries, pensions, and interest on borrowings was a high 64.72 per cent of the budget. He also said the state’s financial health was sound and all indicators were within the limits prescribed by the Centre.