Tamil Nadu

Cash-strapped TN embarks on massive cost-cutting exercise

Measures could save the exchequer around ₹1,000 crore

As part of austerity measures in the wake of a huge shortfall in revenue receipts caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent efforts to contain the pandemic, the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday decided to cut expenses across various accounts on a massive scale.

Bans on foreign travel at the government’s expense; air travel within the State, unless the airfare is lower than or equal to the train fare for the journey; and air travel in executive class for officers of any pay grade were among the measures announced by Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam in a G.O. issued on Thursday.

Cash-strapped TN embarks on massive cost-cutting exercise
 

Air travel outside the State was also restricted, and the Resident Commissioners of the Tamil Nadu House in Delhi would be deputed to attend Government of India meetings to the extent possible.

As travel needed to be minimised and reduced in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the leave travel concession (LTC) had been “deferred for all categories of employees and teachers from the date of order, until further orders”.

A senior official told The Hindu, “We can expect to save around ₹1,000 crore this year through the measures specified in the G.O.”

The permissible rates of daily allowances will be reduced by 25%, and only 75% of the eligible amounts will be allowed to be drawn, subject to rounding off to next ₹10 for all categories of officials and non-officials.

Even general transfers will be kept “on hold” for 2020-21 to minimise transfer travel expenses. “Only transfers on administrative grounds by an authority higher than the authority normally empowered to transfer [someone], and mutual request transfers will be allowed,” the G.O. said.

“The government has carried out a detailed study of the current situation and is taking necessary action to minimise fiscal stress so that expenditure on welfare schemes and capital works are ensured to revive the economy,” the G.O. stated, justifying the curtailment of certain avoidable items of expenditure during the current fiscal. There were ‘mounting’ additional expenditure commitments towards containment, prevention, relief and mitigation activities, it underlined.

Presentation of gifts, bouquets, shawls, mementos, garlands and similar articles in PSUs, local bodies, universities, autonomous boards and other public entities will also be banned. There will also be a ban on official functions and gatherings, including conferences, seminars, workshops and cultural programmes with the participation of more than 20 persons, barring official review meetings. All official lunches and dinners and entertainment activities are also banned.

An informed source recalled that in 2003, similar steps were taken by the then Jayalalithaa-led government when the exchequer was short of funds. Any bill of over ₹5,000, raised anywhere in the State and in any department, had to be cleared by senior authorities in Chennai. “Compared to 2003, the prevailing situation is not so bad, and we hope that it will improve after the lockdown,” the source said.

Another G.O., issued by the Finance Department on Wednesday, imposed a ban on the creation of new posts in all departments, considering the prevailing COVID-19 situation and the need to regulate expenditure on emoluments.

However, it clarified that “recruitment against existing vacant entry-level posts, including through compassionate ground appointments, shall continue, with the approval of the Staff Committee”.

Promotions and recruitment by transfer would continue as per the existing procedure.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 9:17:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/cash-strapped-state-embarks-on-massive-cost-cutting-exercise/article31645165.ece

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