Maharashtra government to spend Rs 52 lakh to buy 855 travel bags for budget documents
The hard top, four-wheeler travel bags packed with budget documents will be given to 366 legislators. This works out to nearly Rs 6,000 for a travel bag.mumbai Updated: Jan 30, 2018 09:37 IST
In a move that flies in face of the state’s much-publicised Digital First initiative, the finance department will not only publish hard copies of the Maharashtra state budget this February, but will also spend Rs 52.50 lakh to buy 855 travel bags to disburse the documents.
The hard top, four-wheeler travel bags packed with budget documents will be given to 366 legislators (including 78 members of legislative council), besides 489 other officials and scribes. This works out to nearly Rs 6,000 for a travel bag. The decision comes even though legislators have allowance to buy laptop and printer from their local area fund once in their tenure.
And the legislature secretariat in a bid to moot its paperless initiative has further invested Rs 1.25 crore to buy hybrid laptops for 78 MLCs. These laptops are assigned to the desk of each MLC to carry out day-to-day work. About 288 legislators from the assembly are yet to be given these laptops.
“The 855 hard top, four-wheeler bags and two leather bags for carrying the budget documents are estimated to cost Rs 52.50 lakh and will be purchased through e-tender,’’ states the government order issued last week. “The idea is to ensure the information about the budget is disseminated to the larger public through public representatives and media persons. It is also to encourage the staff that has worked on the budget.”
The finance department officials defended the move, saying the budget as well as the number of bags other than the model were likely to be the same as last year. “This has been the precedent for more than 20 years. And we have stuck to the last year’s budget as well. At the most, the model or the type of the bag may vary, but it will be a four-wheeler luggage bag. The bags will be procured through an e-tender,’’ said a senior finance department official, who did not want to be named.
Interestingly, in September 2016, a legislature committee was set up to work towards a paperless budget by providing soft copies of the documents through a pen drive or a tablet. This committee’s tenure has been extended thrice so far, but it has not yet arrived at any decision.
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had earlier admitted that a paperless budget can help save costs by 40%.