Austerity measures likely to halt recruitment in departments, universities

Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the government of Karnataka, in Bengaluru. The government’s tax revenues have plummeted because of COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns while expenses have shot up.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s directions to the heads of various departments to cut down at least 5% of avoidable expenditure in current financial year is likely to further postpone recruitment drive in various departments and State-run universities and institutes.

The government’s tax revenues have plummeted because of COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns, while expenses have shot up. To manage the cash-strapped State’s economy, the Chief Minister instructed senior officials to cut down avoidable expenditure by at least 5%. This is expected to further delay, at least by one more year, filling of thousands of vacancies.

The Finance Department has already issued an order directing all administrative departments to seek its permission to undertake recruitment in the current financial year. The government had suspended all recruitments in 2020–21.

Staff crunch

About a month ago, a delegation of vice-chancellors had called on then Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and urged him to take steps for recruitment. In agricultural universities alone, 45% of teaching and 55% of non-teaching posts remain vacant, they had pointed out. Moreover, funding has been reduced to university education/research.

The government has not filled hundreds of teaching and non-teaching vacancies in several State-run universities, institutes, and colleges, said sources in universities and institutes.

The Opposition Congress had earlier said the government should reduce wasteful expenditure by scrapping unnecessary posts in different departments. It also maintained that the government could cut down expenses by not allowing department secretaries to use vehicles of both their departments as well as boards/corporations and for private purposes.

DA hike

The State’s committed expenditure has increased from 77% in 2017–18 to 90% in 2020–21. The recent hike in Dearness Allowance (DA) by 10.25% would further increase the committed expenditure this year.

Committed expenditure, which was around ₹90,000 crore in 2020–21, is likely to touch ₹1 lakh crore in this financial year. With this, the government is expected to use borrowings to pay increased salaries and pensions, leaving little money for development works/projects in 2021–22. It was proposed to borrow ₹71,332 crore (4% of GSDP).

In the last financial year (2020–21), the government froze DA at existing levels and banned purchase of new vehicles, furniture, major repairs of buildings/construction, etc.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 2:44:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/austerity-measures-likely-to-halt-recruitments-in-departments-universities/article35641015.ece

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