Poor state of affairs: State needs Rs 1,500 cr from centre before it can begin work

The first challenge that the new government will have to face, is securing funds that were blocked by the Centre after the erstwhile Congress-led regime in the state failed to account for past expenditure

The first priority of the newly-instated state government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, will be to secure Rs 1,500 crore from the Centre, before it can begin the actual work of development. However, this may prove to be a challenge after the gross financial indiscipline displayed by the former regime.

The amount is the state’s share of the central revenue, supposed to be allocated to the Maharashtra government under the revenue-sharing guidelines under 13th Finance Commission. However, the much-needed funds have not been cleared yet, as the erstwhile Congress-led regime failed to submit utilisation certificates (UCs) to account for past expenditure, said a senior government functionary.

This is a grave oversight, especially at a time when the state has been struggling to raise finances for development projects, the source added. The issue came to light during a presentation made by the state finance department before the new BJP-led government.

The new CM, soon after taking charge on Saturday, said the state will require a loan of Rs 52,000 crore to meet the cost of sops and new plans announced by the previous government. Now, the new government will first approach the Centre for a review, said the sources.

While the timely submission of UCs was meant to keep governance transparent, it has now become a major issue, especially in light of the observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in the report it submitted to the state legislature in June this year. According to the CAG report, UCs for over Rs 71,000 crore have been pending submission for over the past 10 years.

Massive loans
While presenting the details of the state finances, the state finance department is also believed to have informed the newly sworn-in government that the state has generated loans to the tune of Rs 3,00,477 crore.

Of the total amount, the state borrowed Rs 23,600 crore during the financial year of 2013-14. Most shockingly, however, the Congress-NCP government borrowed Rs 12,100 crore in a matter of just a few months, between April and August, 2014.

Sources revealed that what makes matter worse, is that there is no record of the purpose the funds were used for. The loans surely could have been used for infrastructure projects, as the Congress-led government had adopted the build, operate, transfer (BOT) policy, with the involvement of the private sector.

Hence, it is clear that the loans were never used for the development of roads, buildings or bridges, added sources in the government.

Money matters
Defending the BJP’s lavish swearing-in ceremony, Shiv Sena said in its mouthpiece, Saamana that it was ridiculous that the Congress and NCP were now choosing to criticise the amount being spent on the ceremony, despite having siphoned off thousands of crores of government funds during their regime.

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