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Congress to question BJP on state finances

Budget session from March 30, Congress alleges government hasn’t been able to manage the state’s precarious financial situation.

dehradun Updated: Mar 03, 2018 21:35 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,Congress,BJP
Assembly Building at Gairsain. (HT PHOTO)

The budget session of the Uttarakhand assembly, beginning at Gairsain on March 20, is likely to be a stormy affair with the opposition Congress gearing up to corner the Trivendra Singh Rawat-led BJP government on its “failure” to manage the state’s financial situation.

“This (BJP) government has failed to manage the state’s precarious financial situation, which has badly affected development. State employees too are not getting salaries on time,” Leader of Opposition Indira Hridayesh said. “That’s a sensitive issue which we shall raise during the budget session at Gairsain.”

About three lakh state employees, Hridayesh said, have not been getting their salaries on time. “There could be no worse example of the government’s failure in managing its finances,” she said. “What is even worse is that this fiscal mismanagement has had an adverse impact on development.”

Hridayesh said even medical college teachers were not getting their salaries on time. “This is happening for the first time…In fact, even contractors engaged in implementing development projects are not getting their dues on time,” she said.

“They have no funds either to pay employees their salaries or to implement development projects and they call themselves double engine ki sarkar,” Hridayesh said, taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his promise during the assembly polls that the BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttarakhand would put the state on a growth trajectory.

Hridayesh alleged that the fiscal mismanagement showed that those helming the government lacked the decision-making capability. “It (fiscal mismanagement) also shows that they have no control over the bureaucracy that prepares and executes the state’s budget.”

Out of the 2017-18 budget of a little over Rs 40,000 crore, the state government had spent about Rs 27,000 crore on development till January, Hridayesh said. “The total amount spent on development projects comes to around 66%, which lays bare the harsh reality of the state’s growth story the story under this (BJP) government,” she said, adding the Congress would raise the issue during the nine-day budget session.

Finance minister Prakash Pant refuted the Opposition’s allegation of fiscal mismanagement against the state government. “We will welcome it if they initiate a debate in the House on the state’s fiscal situation…Let them initiate such a debate first,” he said, adding that successive governments had failed to spend more than 66% of the annual budget on development activities.

“We are, however, going to change that…By March end, our (government’s) total spending on infrastructure-related projects and other development activities would go up to 74%,” Pant said, adding a maximum budget expenditure would be ensured through fiscal discipline.

“We are keeping under check the tendency of unnecessary parking of funds by departments,” Pant said, adding that checks and balances “are being maintained” by monitoring of spending through a technical cell.

“Through this system of monitoring we will also ensure that quality of works for which funds are being released for departments is also maintained,” he said.

Pant said the state’s share in the central taxes had gone up from 30% to 42%. “We have, however, urged the Centre to release the funds for the state in keeping with its special category status.”

First Published: Mar 03, 2018 21:35 IST