To curb unnecessary last-minute expenditure by various departments to meet the budget targets, Maharashtra finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has stopped accepting purchase orders from February 15, stating only those that are a “pressing need” will be passed, and only by him. The state budget is scheduled for March 18.
The departments are allocated an expenditure budget, which, usually, they do not spend in a phased and planned manner. On realising they have unspent funds, they clear the purchase orders on the last day of the financial year, mostly on buying computers, stationery and welfare goods that are not needed.
“I have not cleared a single purchase order since February 15. There cannot be a dire need for something that is ordered on the last day of the financial year. These expenses can be prevented,” said Mungantiwar, who has been trying to balance the expenditure of the state that is staring at a debt of over Rs3 lakh crore.
Order for items such as vehicles for police will get clearance, depending on its seriousness, he said.
In 2014-15, around 25% of the planned and 15% of the non-planned budget was not spent. “This is a phenomenon every year. I want to change it. If there is so much of unspent money, it means the size of the budget is inflated unnecessarily. An unspent fund of around 5% is fine, but not more than that,” said Mungantiwar. He said the finance department has brought in a new system, under which he monitors monthly expenses and income of the departments to ensure financial prudence.