KARNATAKA

`Issue White Paper on Govt.'s work'

SHIMOGA July 3. The President of the State unit of the Janata Dal (S), Siddaramaiah, said here on Wednesday that the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, should present a "White Paper" not only on the financial position of the State but also on the performance of his Government.

Addressing a press conference, he alleged that the State's financial position was so bad that the Government was not in a position to pay salaries to teachers on time, and that the cheques issued by it had bounced on several occasions. It was unfortunate that the Chief Minister did not admit gracefully the reality of the situation but tried to enter into an argument with Opposition parties which pointed it out, he added.

He said that though the signs of the continued drought prevailed all over the State, the Government had not prepared a contingency plan. He alleged adequate funds were not being released to districts for supply of seeds, fodder for cattle, and drinking water.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said the lackadaisical manner in which the Government was handling the drought made it clear that it lacked seriousness in tackling it. Neither the Revenue Minister, H.C. Srikantaiah, nor the Rural Development Minister, M.Y. Ghorpade, had visited the drought-affected areas for first-hand information about the situation, he added.

He did not approve of the Government's proposal to adjust crop insurance against agricultural loans, and demanded rescheduling of loans. He said short-term loans should be converted into medium-term loans, and medium-term loans into the long-term loans if the Government could not waive loans.

`Reshuffle wasteful'

Commenting on the reshuffle of the ministry, he said it was a futile and wasteful exercise, which would cause an additional burden on the State Exchequer. He said it was difficult to expect any qualitative change in the style of functioning of the Government despite Mr. Krishna's claim that the reshuffle had been done to provide an "efficient, clean, and transparent'' government, as the same "inefficient and corrupt" ministers had found berths. At least a dozen ministers in the new team had no work to do, according to Mr. Siddaramaiah.

He ridiculed the finding of a survey that Mr. Krishna was the "No.1 Chief Minister", and said corruption was growing.

He criticised the Government for dithering on the demand to hand over the fake stamp paper case to the CBI despite the Bangalore City Police Commissioner, H.T. Sangliana's recommendation. He pointed out that the Maharashtra Government had suggested that the case be handed over to the CBI.

Mr. Siddaramaiah alleged that Mr. Krishna was misleading the people by making false claims. He contested the Chief Minister's claim that his Government did not face any problem, and said the simmering discontent and groupism among ministers after the reshuffle of the ministry were bound to have an adverse effect on the administration. Mr. Siddaramaiah said the precarious financial position of the State was a matter of serious concern, and added that no development work was being taken up out of the tax revenue. The unseemly craze to raise loans from the World Bank and the NABARD appeared to show that the Government was not bothered about their repayment.

He said it was strange to note that while the Tax Reforms Commission set up under the chairmanship of the former Chief Minister, M. Veerappa Moily, had pointed out that there was the leakage in the excise revenue to the tune of Rs. 1,450 crore, it was denied by the Minister of State for Excise, M.M. Nanaiah, who described the observation as "rubbish''. He said it was evident that the Excise Department was colluding with the excise lobby, going by its inability to plug the loopholes in the mobilisation of revenue. There was no growth in the revenue of the Excise Department commensurate with the increase in liquor consumption, he added.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said the Government had not initiated any step to check power theft, which was as high as 39 per cent of the total power generated. It was not able to provide quality power to farmers for two hours without disruption, though the Chief Minister claimed in his Budget speech that power would be supplied to irrigation pumpsets for three hours, he noted.

`Merger soon'

Mr. Siddaramaiah said no timeframe could be fixed for the merger of the JD(S) and the JD(U). The merger would be completed as soon as possible. He denied that the leaders of either of the parties were coming in way of the merger.

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