The much-talked about white paper on the financial condition of Maharashtra, which was released on Friday, surprisingly said no discrepancies or financial irregularities had been found in the workings of the 15-year-long Congress-NCP state government, which was replaced by the BJP government last year.
The paper, however, raised questions about the previous state government’s release of transfer of development rights (TDR) worth a staggering Rs 33,361 crore, over the last decade.
According to sources in the Mantralaya, the report prepared by the finance department was diluted by the political leadership at the last minute. The department had proposed stern remarks on irregularities by various departments of the previous government and pointed at theft of funds released in direct benefit schemes. However, these remarks were diluted at a meeting held late on Thursday.
The report, however, does say capital expenditure was largely hampered under the previous government, and that a large part of the debt burden was spent on revenue expenditure.
Soon after the BJP-led state government was sworn in last year, state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had announced a white paper on the state’s financial condition, clarifying it was only to set the plan of action for the new government. The report says uncontrolled TDR – worth Rs 22,693 crore for slum redevelopment and Rs 7,912 crore for reserved development – was released by the previous state government, as on September 2014.
Speaking on the rising expenditure on salaries and pensions of government employees, the report cited the BMC as an example. It said the civic body has been spending Rs 123 crore on pension for 1.22 lakh retired employees every year, while allocation for salaries of 1.09 lakh employees was Rs 383 crore. The report recommends a pension fund to reduce the state’s burden. It also states there has been a rise of 13.9% in expenditure on salaries of government employees, in the past five years. The hike was a 16.6% each in the home department and the law and judiciary department. “The state has set the target of flawless financial planning by rise in capital expenditure,” the report reads.
Reiterating the figures stated in the economic survey of Maharashtra, the report said the accumulated debt of the state in the past 10 years has increased from Rs 1.09 lakh crore to Rs 3.02 crore, but is well within the parameters set by the Centre.
The white paper said the state intends to appoint an expert committee for evaluation of government machinery and administrative functions, for planning based on the present circumstances. It also intends to regularise expenditure on salary and subsidy, and maximum utilisation of resources for creation of capital assets.