Thiruvananthapuram: With barely 45 days left for the current fiscal year to end, the Kerala government is yet to spend a whopping 40 per cent of its budget allocation for various Central, state and local body programmes.
In fact, the authorities are facing an almost impossible task of spending Rs 15,098 crore out of the Rs 37,042 crore set apart for these programmes within this short period. Since the start of this financial year on April 1, 2021, the amount utilized till now is Rs 21,944 crore.
Incidentally, even half of the amounts allotted to crucial programmes of 17 major departments including those related to Scheduled Caste and Tribe development remain unspent.
Reacting to the situation, the state Finance Minister K N Balagopal said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the heavy rainfall had affected project implementation. “However, we feel that the programmes will not have to be curtailed,” he added.
Even though the minister was optimistic about the situation, the discrete treasury restrictions imposed in August last year had indeed affected the spending by departments. After they were directed not to utilize more than 30 per cent of the budget allocation, most departments adopted a lethargic attitude towards programme implementation.
Local body projects stalled
Among the departments, the local bodies had the worst record in this regard. This is revealed by data till February 14, according to which as many as 7,389 bills from local bodies were stuck at government treasuries for payment. When the maintenance grant is also considered, the number shoots up to 9,850.
Meanwhile, officials at the Treasury said that the bills were not cleared as they were submitted in online mode only and the hard copies had not reached the treasuries. However, contractors who submitted the bills alleged that the non-payment of bills was a deliberate act of the government.