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Monday, September 21, 2020

Two-day Monsoon Session: Maharashtra govt raises Rs 29 K crore for excess expense during pandemic, internal debt rises further

Finance Minister Ajit Pawar, in his supplementary statement of expenditure, raised additional internal debt of Rs 12,000 crore to “pay advances taken by government under the special drawing facility”.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Updated: September 8, 2020 10:05:27 am
Monsoon Session, Maharashtra govt, COvid pandemic, Maharashtra internal debt, Indina express newsFinance Minister Ajit Pawar arrives at Vidhan Bhavan on Monday. (Express photo)

Scrambling to raise funds to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the state government on Monday proposed additional budgetary grants worth Rs 29,085 crore for meeting projections of excess in expenditure.

Finance Minister Ajit Pawar, in his supplementary statement of expenditure, raised additional internal debt of Rs 12,000 crore to “pay advances taken by government under the special drawing facility”.

With the economy hit hard owing to the prolonged lockdown, Maharashtra is among the states that has been forced to borrow additionally to meet the government’s wage bill. By September 1, it had already borrowed an additional Rs 46,000 crore.

Pawar tabled the expenditure statement on the first day of the curtailed Monsoon Session of state legislature. It will be discussed and sanctioned by both Houses on Tuesday — the last day of the session.

With cash reserves drying up, the state had frozen expenditure on new development works in May, while partially easing some curbs in July. While raising supplementary grants on Monday, the paucity of fund availability for pushing new investment in public sector capital works was evident, with just about 0.3 per cent of funds or Rs 1,012 crore being set aside for such new works.

Operational expenses for Covid-19 combat infrastructure and raising additional funds for the government’s delayed farm loan waiver scheme were the other main components of the supplementary demands raised, with an additional grant of Rs 10,585 crore sought for farm loan waivers. The government had earlier withdrawn Rs 9,900 crore from the contingency fund for the loan waiver scheme. This will now be recouped.

The public health and medical education departments have proposed excess expenditure of Rs 2,000 crore, with Covid-19 related expenses accounting for most of it.

The purchase of medicines is now estimated to cost Rs 634 crore, while the government projected supplementary expense of Rs 300 crore for the spend of “supplies and materials to government medical colleges and hospitals”. Another Rs 75 crore was set aside for purchase of new ambulances, while Rs 104 crore in additional expenses was projected towards hiring of medical officers on contract basis.

The government set aside Rs 30 crore for “ex-gratia payment to the families of police officers who died on duty due to Covid-19”. To subsidise home loans for policemen, it budgeted for another Rs 40 crore. Also, Rs 100 crore was earmarked for honorarium to be paid for services of home guards, and Rs 130 crore for remuneration to ASHA volunteers.

A supplementary demand of Rs 316 crore was been made for conversion of additional milk into milk powder, while Rs 65 crore was raised towards one-time grants announced for fishermen. Further, the government set aside Rs 50 crore for replantation and rehabilitation of orchards ravaged by cyclone Nisarga.

Additional Rs 500 crore will be made available for infrastructure works in municipal councils, while a provision of Rs 50 crore was made for road construction and bridges under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development’s assistance scheme. The government also set aside an additional Rs 57 crore for anti-Naxal operations.

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