THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala has alleged the state was facing an acute financial crunch and the treasury does not have enough money even to settle the bills of registered contractors. He said contractors have not been paid since December 20 and the total amount due to them now stands at a whopping `1,200 crore.
Addressing reporters here on Tuesday, Chennithala said the contractors have decided not to take up any work till their dues are cleared and this was affecting the state’s development. “Except for salary and pension, no other bills are being cleared by the state treasury for the past 15 days,” he told Express. He said the plan expenditure stood at a low of 51.84%.
Chennithala said the tax collection has reduced drastically and the arrears stood at `21,000 crore and this was one of the major reasons for the present financial crunch. He also alleged that state’s cash balance stood at `850 crore which is a major worry for the debt-ridden state.
Countering the allegation a senior finance ministry official said Plan expenditure has not fallen. “The Opposition leader has alleged that there is a huge dip in plan expenditure but the figures prove otherwise,” the officer said. On February 14, 2019 the plan expenditure stood at 62.07%. The expenditure on the same day during 2017-18 was 54.38%, while it was 29.51% in 2016-17.
The officer said there was nothing to worry about the cash balance as it changes on a day-to-day basis. Regarding the arrears to contractors, the officer said the dues are settled through a software called EMILY which has made the entire process transparent.
The officer said the only crisis the state faces is the restriction imposed by the Centre on Open Market Borrowing and linking of Public Accounts to it. “This is first time that Open Market Borrowing is linked to Public Accounts and around `2,000 crore is held up due to the decision,” the officer said.
He said the lower revenue growth was due to the fluctuations in GST collection.
Cong to ready LS list in March
T’Puram: Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the Congress would submit its list of candidates to the party high command in the first week of March. Addressing reporters here on Thursday, he said detailed discussions on the seats will be conducted after the conclusion of the Janamaha Yatra. Chennithala expected the discussions with the coalition partners would be a smooth affair and that there won’t be any issues regarding sharing of seats.
The senior Congress leader said the opinion polls by a private news channel, which said the UDF will sweep the election, are not correct but are indicators. When asked why his popularity has plummeted to just 8%, Chennithala said: “I am an ordinary person and does not require much popularity.” He said the election will also be an evaluation of the state government’s performance. He said the Congress is the only alternative to Narendra Modi government.