At a time when the West Bengal government is gearing up to spend around Rs 375 crore on renovation, shifting and reshifting of the state secretariat, central figures indicate that the state’s growth in share of own resources in plan financing during the ongoing financial year has been quite negligible compared to other states.
Union minister for planning, Rajiv Shukla, gave a written reply in Rajya Sabha recently where he said that in the current financial year, West Bengal’s growth in its own share in the plan expenditure is just 26.56%.
This is far lower than corresponding figures for Tamil Nadu with 38.47%, Assam 37.44%, Odisha 36.87%, Madhya Pradesh 33.16% and Uttar Pradesh 27.05%, among others.
Economists feel that the growth figure of West Bengal on this count typically justifies the twin economic factors that lead to slow growth in the state’s own share in the planexpenditure --- major part of the revenue being spent on salary payment and abnormally high rate of non-plan expenditure.
“In case of the West Bengal, as we all know that a major part of the revenue is spent on payment of wages, salaries and retirement benefits to the current and retired state government employees. At the same time, the non-plan expenditure in the state is abnormally high. Since non-plan expenditure does not create any asset, it contributes to the slow growth in the state’s own share in plan expenditure,” said city-based economist Probir Mukherjee.
According to him, West Bengal’s own share in plan expenditure is bound to decline further in the coming days if the state government continues to go for higher non-plan expenditures like spending on local clubs, holding festivals, award functions and finally shifting, re-shifting and renovation of the state secretariat.
As reported by HT on August 9, 2013, West Bengal government is set to incur around Rs 375 crore on account of state secretariat renovation and shifting, out of which R200 crore would be utilised for renovation of Writers’ Buildings, R100 crore for making necessary arrangements at HRBC building at Mandirtala in Howrah and finally Rs 75 crore on miscellaneous and eventual expenditures.
All these add to the mounting non-plan expenditure since neither the renovation of Writers’ Buildings nor the shifting expenses will create new assets for the state government.