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State govt struggles to spend funds

The state government has failed to use nearly half of the funds budgeted in the financial year 2009-2010.

mumbai Updated: Feb 17, 2010 01:30 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

The state government has failed to use nearly half of the funds budgeted in the financial year 2009-2010.

Since April 2009, state departments have utilised only 51 per cent of the total development resources.

When the financial year ends in six weeks, an estimated

Rs 20,431 crore worth of development funds for schemes like construction of roads, purchasing better vehicles for policing and upgrading healthcare, will lie unused in the state’s coffers.

Key departments like Agriculture, Housing, Water Supply, Home, Rural Development, and Revenue and Forest have utilised less than 50 per cent of their funds set aside as development expenditure under state and central government schemes.

These do not include establishment costs like salaries.

The Housing department has spent only Rs 636 crore of its total budget of Rs 2,444 crore.

The Agriculture and Animal Husbandry department utilised only Rs 490 crore out of Rs 1,051 crore. The Home department has utilised Rs 141 crore out of the Rs 571 crore budgeted.

“In the past few years, allocation for health, education and urban renewal schemes has increased exponentially but the state has not been able to keep pace,” said V. Ranganathan, former state chief secretary.

“This shows that there is money in the state coffers but the government lacks the capacity to spend.’’

This means an inability to make speedy decisions, red tape and lack of effective ground level implementation of schemes.

Finance Minister Sunil Tatkare admitted to the non-utilisation of funds.

“I plan to take a review of all the departments and their budgetary spending next week. I agree 51 per cent utilisation is low but there could be various reasons like the elections,” said Tatkare. “Often funds from the Centre are also granted in the last quarter so state’s share is shown as unspent.”

Opposition Leader Eknath Khadse, who was the finance minister in the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government, said the situation reflected the state’s performance.

“States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and even Uttar Pradesh and Bihar ensure that at least funds from central schemes are utilised completely,” said Khadse.

“In Maharashtra, our share from Central funds is going down because the state cannot utilise more than 60 per cent.’’

A senior bureaucrat requesting anonymity said if departments started planning from day one, funds could be utilised better. “But, there is no focus and this continues to be one of our endemic problems,” the bureaucrat said.