Struggling to raise funds to meet its budgeted expenditure, the Maharashtra government on Monday proposed additional budgetary grants worth Rs 21,993 crore for meeting projections of excess expenditure. According to the supplementary statement of expenditure, which was tabled by Finance Minister Ajit Pawar on the first day of the winter session of the state legislature, just about 34 per cent or Rs 7,509 crore of these have been set aside for public sector investment in capital works.
Even as curbs imposed in May on budgeted development expenditure in the wake of the coronavirus-induced lockdown continue to be in place, this is the second time since September when the government has raised additional grants. Earlier during the monsoon session in September, the government had raised supplementary grants worth Rs 29,085 crore.
In other words, the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition has already raised additional grants worth Rs 51,078 crore this year, which is 13 per cent more than its budgeted capital outlay of Rs 45,124 crore, amid the struggle to raise resources to meet the budgeted expenditure. “A 67 per cent cut on budgeted development spend is still in place for all non-revenue earning departments, while it is 25 per cent in the case of income generation departments,” said a senior state official, admitting that the capital expenditure in the ongoing year will be far less as compared to the budgeted amount. On Tuesday, the second and the final day of the curtailed winter session, the Opposition will try to corner the ruling party over the fiscal imprudence during the discussion over the supplementary grants.
Bailing out the loss-making Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, the government has announced a special assistance of Rs 880 crore for payment of pending salaries of the staff. It had earlier withdrawn Rs 120 crore from the state’s contingency fund for paying the MSRTC staff. It has also earmarked an additional Rs 2,220 crore for financial assistance to farmers who suffered losses in floods and natural calamities, while setting aside Rs 2,850 crore for procurement of paddy under the government incentive support scheme. It has also earmarked an additional Rs 40 crore for its flagship subsidised food scheme, Shiv Bhojan. With farm lands across the state reporting losses due to climatic change, floods and cyclones, it has also allocated an additional Rs 1,000 crore towards premium payments under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
With private capital investment remaining sluggish, the government has also upped its own spend on road and construction works to rev up demand and generate jobs. It has made an additional provision of Rs 3,824 crore for the Public Works Department, with investment in road works being the main component. It has also announced enhanced allocation of Rs 306 crore for rural road works under the Rural Development department’s Mukhya Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
Having eased curbs on development works undertaken through funds allotted to legislators under the Local Area Development programme, the government has now allowed Rs 477 crore of unutilised grants from last year to be put to use this year under the head. Through the additional grants, Pawar has also attempted to quell the unease of ally Congress over the distribution of development funds, allocating a handsome amount to municipal councils led by the Congress. In all, Rs 877 crore has been additionally set aside for development works in municipalities, while another Rs 534 crore has been earmarked as grant-in-aid to the municipal councils on account of cancellation of octroi collection. An additional Rs 502 crore has been raised for development works in rural bodies.
The state will also give Rs 101 crore in assistance to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, while reimbursing the agency for another Rs 405 crore paid towards interest on loan availed for the construction of the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor project. The government will spend Rs 1.77 crore for “additional safety measures” at the Nagpur-based residence of Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharad Bobde and another Rs 6 crore for various works at Raj Bhavan. It has also set aside an additional Rs 20 crore for anti-Naxal operations.
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