The Planning Board is understood to have asked the Kerala government to seek an explanation from departments that have failed to expend judiciously the Plan funds allotted in the current financial year. A high-level Plan review in the last lap of the financial year has detected gross ineptness in the execution of projects and absorption of funds. These include Centrally Sponsored Schemes and Externally Aided Projects. Many schemes show zero expenditure too.
Sources said that among the defaulters, the Planning Department had an unspent balance of about Rs. 615 crore in February.
The unspent balance of the Industries Department amounted to Rs. 30 crore, Labour Rs. 47 crore, Cooperation Rs. 42.7 crore, and Scheduled Caste Development Department Rs. 42.9 crore. With limited options at their disposal, bunching of expenditure would be inevitable. The criticism is that the government machinery has failed to monitor and initiate corrective measures to ensure optimum utilisation of the funds.
Finance Department sources told The Hindu here that many programmes scheduled under the one-time Additional Central Assistance were not launched till January.
The sloppiness in fund absorption was mainly reported from the Health and the Education departments. There was virtually no follow-up on the announcement of setting up of new medical colleges and an Ayurveda college. The officials concerned had not even identified land for the colleges.
In spite of the financial crisis, the government was unlikely to resort to a cut in Plan funds as it would have far-reaching consequences like a cut in Central allocation in the coming year. This would also have a bearing on the government’s image on the eve of elections and hence, it would have to tread cautiously, the sources said.