It’s all about PR for the Devendra Fadnavis government, it seems, as it spent a steep Rs20 lakh on just postal stamps in a year.
Records available with the general administration department show the annual expenditure on stamps used by the establishment was Rs3 lakh during the last tenure of the Congress-NCP government. This shot up tremendously ever since the new government took over last year, officials said.
The amount of postal stamps used by the offices of different ministers has gone up at least seven times when compared to the previous government, and about 70% of this was used by the office of finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar alone.
The expenditure on stationery has also gone up after the BJP-Shiv Sena government came to power.
The department is not happy. Owing to the demand from Mungantiwar’s office, the department said it has run out of stock many times in the past year.
“We have already supplied stamps worth Rs13 lakh. Now, we have placed a fresh order for another Rs10 lakh. We are not sure if the stock will even last the current fiscal,” said an official from the department, not wishing to be named.
The official said 70 % of the stock is used by Mungatiwar’s office — 35,000 greeting cards were sent out this Diwali, apart from hundreds of letters to voters from his constituency in Chandrapur.
“His office has recently raised a demand of stamps worth Rs5 lakh, which forced us to place a fresh order. His office dispatched about 35,000 greeting cards this Diwali with the stamp of Rs5 on each of it. He published 72 books related to the departments he handles, apart from 19 books he has penned. Some booklets were dispatched with a postage of Rs35 each,” the official said.
The minister also sends out copies of government resolutions related to the public to voters from his constituency. This leads to the excessive expenditure.
The department has now informally requested his office to use social media and online facilities to reach out to people.
Mungantiwar, on his part, said he found nothing wrong in replying to letters from the people.
“It is true that we send a lot of letters to voters and the public. Against each letter I receive, we write two letters, one as an acknowledgment and another about the action taken. I am not sure if my expenditure amounts to 70% of the total expenditure on stamps, but I think it is justified. We are accountable to the public and there is nothing wrong with writing letters to them,” he said.
He also said he does not use email or other types of social media as many in rural areas have no access them.
The overall expenditure on stationery by the offices of ministers has also gone up. “Unlike the previous government, ministers from the BJP and Shiv Sena have appointed employees from outside the government in various capacities. The stationery they need leads to the increased expenditure,” another officer said.