Kerala

LSGIs fare well braving COVID crisis

They post 22.57% expenditure in the first quarter of the current financial year

Braving the rigours of COVID-19, local self-government institutions (LSGIs) in the State have posted 22.57% expenditure in the first quarter of the current financial year.

As per the latest figures accessed by The Hindu, the expenditure rate has registered a slight increase compared to the 21.41% in the corresponding period last year.

Planning Board member K.N. Harilal attributes the achievement to a decision in December last to set the planning process in motion in advance, mainly in anticipation of the local body elections due this year. Official directions and guidelines were issued to local bodies in time to make the task of project preparation, whetting, and submission for approval before the end of the financial year easy.

This earned the local bodies and decentralised planning and development process an early-bird advantage.

Early planning helped

While the Planning Board, the government, and the local bodies were going ahead with the project preparation, they had no hint that a pandemic outbreak was in the waiting, but the early planning did a world of good and the activities could be taken forward without much lapses, Mr. Harilal says.

Once the COVID-19 spread threatened to bring the entire planning process to a halt, the board again stirred into action and revised the norms in March for conducting grama sabhas and selecting beneficiaries in compliance with the COVID-19 protocol.

Though the State was passing through a major financial crisis, the government insulated the payments to local bodies from the crisis and hence they did not feel the heat. Clearance of bills from the treasury was made easy to an extent and project execution progressed without giving room for much complaints.

Hardly three months are left for the elections and in the given circumstances, expenditure crossing the 50% mark would not be easy. Still, the progress attained is quite significant.

Pivotal role

The local bodies are acting as a pivot in the containment activities, running community kitchens, contact tracing, supporting the police and health personnel to monitor those in quarantine and a host of other responsibilities.

Malappuram district has recorded the highest expenditure of 23.19% and Ernakulam the lowest of 19.03%. Still, the rate of expenditure is much higher than the 8.87% in June 2019, 11.53% in 2018, and 4.99% in 2017.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 11:00:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/local-bodies-fare-well-braving-covid-crisis/article31933516.ece

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