Austerity the byword, departments told

Keeping a tight rein on expenses must remain a serious priority for the government, given the acute financial crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Finance Department has indicated.

The department has urged heads of government departments to keep the need to economise clearly in mind when preparing the Budget estimates for the 2022-23 fiscal.

“The serious financial constraints being faced by the government make it imperative for it to prepare the Budget 2022-23 with extreme austerity,” Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) Rajesh Kumar Singh noted in a set of instructions issued to the heads of departments.

The department heads have been asked to draw up the estimates on revenue and other dues to the government by giving due consideration to the need to step up collections. As a general rule, the non-Plan Revenue Budget, excluding salaries of each unit, should be retained at the current year’s level, according to the Finance Department.

“Retention of the revenue Budget at the current year’s revised estimate level will, therefore, require introduction of economy measures in all other spheres of activity. It might necessitate the dropping of uneconomical schemes and perhaps deferment of certain measures, including maintenance expenditure, which can be postponed,” the July 30 circular said.

The departments have also been instructed to indicate the year-wise extent of arrears and the measures taken or proposed for their recovery. Further, the reasons for their accumulation also should be furnished.

According to the Medium Term Fiscal Policy and Strategy Statement tabled in the Assembly in June, the COVID-19-induced GSDP loss to Kerala stood at a whopping ₹1,56,041 crore in 2020-21 in relation to the Budget estimates for that fiscal. The departments have been asked to submit the non-Plan expenditure estimates by August 31, Plan expenditure proposals by September 10, and proposals pertaining to revenue and other receipts by September 15.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 4:41:10 PM |

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