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Delhi budget: Unspent funds spark questions on AAP’s intent

delhi Updated: Mar 29, 2016 06:53 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times
Delhi budget

Delhi finance minister Manish Sisodia at an interaction with the media before presenting the budget in assembly, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

Education and health will account for more than 34% of the Delhi’s government’s total spending in 2016-17, but that comes on the back of an unspent budget in the two sectors this year.

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia sought to clarify that it was a flawed approach to assess a budget on the basis of the amount spent against budgeted estimates. Budgets, instead, should be judged on qualitative metrics including the benefits that the plans and programmes brought to the people, Sisodia said in his budget speech for 2016-17 on Monday.

In 2015-16, the Delhi government had budgeted to spend Rs 41,129 crore. The actual spending stood at Rs 37,690 crore, implying Rs 3,164 crore remained unspent.

“What really needs to be examined is the optimum utilisation of resources, honesty and sincerity in use of public money, the participation of people and extent of the benefit to the citizens at large,” Sisodia said.

“The aim of the government is not spending the allocated money, but ensuring that every rupee spent makes a difference in the lives of the people,” he said.

Read: Slice of pie for every aadmi in AAP’s Delhi Budget

Leader of the Opposition, Vijender Gupta claimed the government failed to implement schemes worth Rs 9,000 crore i.e. nearly 50% of its allocation.

“It had earmarked an allocation of Rs 19,000 crore under the plan head during the current financial year. But it has been reduced to Rs 16,400 crore, reflecting a short expenditure of Rs 2,600 crore. But the actual expenditure till March 31 would be only Rs 10,000 crore, reflecting actual short expenditure of Rs 9,000 crore,” Gupta said.

According to Gupta, even the actual non-plan expenditure was Rs 21,565 crore, lower by Rs 564 crore compared to the budgeted estimate of Rs 22,129 crore.

“These unspent funds reflect the failure of the government to achieve the set targets,” said Gupta.

As per the revised estimate, the government failed to spend money on almost every sector ranging from education, health and urban development to social welfare.

Read: Govt promises 3,000 new buses, 1,000 in premium segment

Spending on education fell short by Rs 865 crore, on health by Rs 515 crore, in urban development by Rs 168 crore, in rural development programmes by Rs 80 crore, and in transport by almost Rs 170 crore compared to budgeted estimates.

Experts blame a lack of planning for funds remaining unspent.

“There is a lack of vision in the budget presented by the government. They have increased the allocation for education but also widened the non-plan outlay. This shows that the government has no focus on bringing long-term development,” said Khagesh Jha, an advocate and member of Social Jurist, an NGO working in the field of education.