Today's Paper

Ordinance for supplementary estimates to meet expenditure on relief work

S. Rajendran

It is for the first time that such an Ordinance has been promulgated

BANGALORE: On a day marked by consultations in the State Government over the need for adequate funds for rehabilitation of the flood-hit people, which were followed up with discussions with Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, an emergency Cabinet meeting adopted a resolution on supplementary estimates for Rs. 2,500 crore.

Subsequently, the Governor promulgated an Ordinance approving the appropriation.

It is the first time in the history of the State legislature that a finance matter has been promulgated through an Ordinance since it is not in session and the Government has to meet a sudden spurt in expenditure.

Ratification

The supplementary budget estimates will figure for ratification in the next session of the legislature to replace the Ordinance.

Minister for Home V.S. Acharya said that the State Cabinet also decided to introduce a toll on trucks carrying iron ore, granite, sand and timber.

The revenue generated would be used for better upkeep of the highways, the Minister said.

A Cabinet subcommittee will finalise the toll rates and they will come into force on November 15.

Decision

This decision, however, has nothing to do with generating funds for providing relief to the flood-hit people.

The Government is thinking of some taxation measures to raise funds for that purpose.

Meeting

Earlier, the Home Minister along with Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary to the State Government S.V. Ranganath and Principal Secretary to the Government (Finance) M.R. Sreenivasamurthy met the Governor and impressed upon him the need for an Ordinance to enable the State Government to meet the huge expenditure on rehabilitating the people affected by the recent flood and rains.

Soon after receiving the concurrence of the Governor, an emergency meeting of the Cabinet was held to pass a resolution.

Thereafter, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa met the Governor and submitted the Cabinet resolution, seeking early promulgation of the Ordinance.

Promise

Sources in the Raj Bhavan told The Hindu that the Governor promised that, if need be, he would impress upon the Union Government to extend adequate financial assistance to the State.

Dr. Acharya said that in the budget for the financial year, the State Government earmarked Rs. 139.36 crore for calamity relief, and inclusive of reimbursement (Rs. 36.29 crore) from the Union Government for the previous year’s expenditure, the funds available with the Government for calamity relief was Rs. 175.67 crore.

Following the floods in the north Karnataka region, the Government, however, had spent Rs. 505 crore on relief work.

Need for funds

With the immediate need to augment funds for calamity relief (Rs. 2,500 crore), the Government had taken recourse to an Ordinance.

The budget estimates for 2009-10 presented in the Legislative Assembly on February 20 by the Chief Minister showed a surplus of Rs. 1,151.37 crore in revenue account and a deficit of Rs. 1,237.25 crore in capital account.

Deficit

The overall deficit was then estimated at Rs. 85.88 crore. With the revised estimates for 2008-09 showing a surplus of Rs. 42.80 crore, the closing balance indicated a deficit of Rs. 43.08 crore.

All this is now expected to change with the Government being compelled to rework some of the allocations made for certain departments in the wake of the loss caused by rain and floods.