(G.N.S) Dt. 18
Chief minister Siddaramaiah is scheduled to present the state budget, the last in his current tenure, on February 15 and preparations will begin with the first pre-budget meeting on Thursday. The budget could be big on ambition, what with the outlay expected to be pegged at around Rs 2.1 lakh crore, and, with assembly elections due in April-May, is likely to be filled with sops.
However, tempering all the brouhaha is the government’s under-achievement in terms of budgeted estimates for the current fiscal. Records show slow spending, especially on development works, with the total expenditure barely crossing the halfway mark. As many as 23 departments have not even spent 50% of the funds allocated to them.
Against its estimated expenditure of Rs 1,78,385 crore by March 31, 2018, the government spent only Rs 99,774 crore till the end of December. Of the estimated capital expenditure of Rs 33,640 crore, most of which has to go towards developmental works, only Rs. 14,585 crore has been spent so far. The spending, especially capital expenditure, has been a little slow as the departments could not take up developmental works between August and November because of heavy rain in the state. The spending has picked up from the mid-December, said Ritvik Ranjanam Pandey, finance secretary (budget and resources).
I S N Prasad, additional chief secretary of the finance department, said it is normal that most of the money is spent in the last quarter of the fiscal year. He hoped the government would achieve its target both in revenue and expenditure. “The figures are being worked out,” Prasad said. “While we have just started the process of taking stock before the preparations for the next budget, I hope we will able to spend at least 90% of funds projected in the current budget.”
With only 73 days to go before the fiscal year closes, the government is faced with the task of spending at least Rs 80,000 crore, including Rs 19,045 crore towards capital expenditure, before March 31. That target may seem massive with elections just round the corner. There has been a sudden spurt in development works since December last year, with the chief minister himself inaugurating a spate of projects in almost all the districts during his just concluded the state-wide Sadhana Yatre.
“The government slept through the year and it is quite obvious that it is rushing in the last quarter to meet the targets,” said V K Srinivasan, a budget analyst and vice-chairman of Indian School of Economics. “But slow spending through the year reflects slow development.”
The revenue side, however, has been brighter despite GST hiccups. This is largely due to the Centre’s compensation — Rs 3,271 crore for the first four months after the new taxation system kicked in on July 1, 2017. As against the targeted Rs 55,000 crore from commercial taxes, the state has so far collected Rs 40,000 crore, including Rs 14,243 crore collected in the earlier value added tax (VAT) regime between April and June, 2017.
“The state has been able to just about meet the revenue target, thanks to compensation for GST,” said B T Manohar, state taxation committee chairman of Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industries. “But, what we expect is revenue earning through tax compliance. We hope the government will take effective steps in this direction.
(G.N.S) Dt. 18