By BS Reporter
Refuting the allegation of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) that the state was unable to achieve desired level of expenditure in key sectors due to late arrival of Central assistance, the opposition Congress in Odisha has said that the government failed to spend the sanctioned amounts because of flaws in its own policy.
“The state finance department has imposed restrictions on Central purchasing system practiced in rural and urban development departments. This resulted in less expenditure,” said Prasad Harichandan, chief whip of Congress in the assembly.
Under Central purchasing system, the government departments are allowed to put bulk order to get required goods at lower rates. But since the system takes time to deliver, the state government, in February last year, issued new guidelines for purchase of goods for public purpose.
Defending the state government stand of delay in arrival of Central fund, Finance minister Prasanna Acharya said, they were bound by the rule of law.
“As per the central government funding conditions, if a department fails to achieve less than 60 per cent spending of total amount in a given quarter, then the unutilized amount of that quarter gets deducted from the sanctioned amount. We are just following the system,” said Acharya.
He also expressed dissatisfaction over delay in Central fund allocation.
“If they cannot give us what we deserve then they should stop preaching,” the minister said. During review of the state’s annual plan expenditure on Friday, the Planning Commission member, Prof Abhijit Sen had pointed out less than half utilisation of Central assistance in sectors like energy, urban development and rural development between April and December 2012.
“In terms of expenditure, three sub-sectors have been able to spend much less than the advanced budgeted spending than other sectors. These are energy, urban development and parts of rural development,” he said.
The energy department has spent Rs 131 crore out of an outlay of Rs 2,509 crore. The urban development spent Rs 149 crore (against approved proposal of Rs 438 crore) and rural development Rs 176 crore (Rs 401 crore).
The lowest expenditure in energy department was due to procedural delay, said Sen.
However, overall, the state was able to spend 61 per cent of the total planed expenditure. “We have spent about Rs 9,000 crore out of total planned outlay of Rs 15,000 crore, which is highest ever so far compared with other years,” said Bijaya Kumar Patnaik, chief secretary.
Regarding less spending in three departments as pointed out by the plan panel member, he said, it was primarily due to late arrival of funds from the Central government.