PUDUCHERRY: "Which is the actual financial outlay for Puducherry, Rs.9,000 crore or Rs.8,982 crore for this financial Year?," asks former MP M Ramadass pointing out conspicuous discrepancies in budget outlay in Chief Minister V Narayanasamy's speech and Annual Financial statement (AFS), both presented in the Legislative Assembly.
The financial outlay for the year would be Rs.9000 crore, said Chief Minister in his budget speech but the Annual Financial Statement (AFS) tabled by him in the Assembly mentions it as Rs.8982 crore.
The difference of Rs.18 crore was pointed out by M Ramadass, who is also former Professor of economics in Pondicherry University, in a letter to Lt Governor Kiran Bedi.
There is a mismatch of revenue and expenditure also in the budget speech. While the own revenue of the Territory is only Rs.5247 crore (tax revenue Rs.3673 crore and non tax revenue Rs.1574 crore) as in AFS, the CM inflates it to Rs.5267 crore in his speech.
Secondly, while the actual capital receipts including borrowing is Rs.1712 crore, CM deflates it to Rs.1710 crore.
Consequently, Rs.18 crore is excessively indicated in the Budget Speech. "How is this excess amount accounted for or adjusted or shown in AFS and Demand for Grants? It is inexplicable," he said.
With regard to revenue expenditure, the CM has shown an expenditure of Rs.8653 crores, leaving a balance of Rs.347 crores. But the actual revenue expenditure according to AFS is only Rs.7715 crores.
The CM is not clear on how he proposes to utilise the balance Rs.347 crores.
"Will it remain as revenue surplus or become capital expenditure? It cannot be treated as full capital outlay as AFS envisages a total capital expenditure of Rs.1267 crore. Even if Rs.347 crore meets a part of the capital expenditure, how will the remaining Rs.920 crore be financed? Will this not exhibit a deficit in Budget?," asked Ramadass.
While AFS presents a balanced budget, the budget speech of CM projects a deficit budget, said Ramadass.
There are variations in allocations too. While the allocation for Agriculture is Rs.119 crores in CM’s speech, it is Rs.95.28 crores in AFS. Similarly for Education it is Rs.967.77 crores as against Rs.975.43 crores in AFS and Rs.709.47 crores to Health as against 724.01 in AFS.
Further there is no financial backing for schemes announced by CM and these schemes will remain only as dream projects on paper.
Under the Department of Rural Development, the CM has announced the implementation of a new scheme entitled "Thanthai Periyar Rejuvenation Scheme for Rural women" at a cost of Rs.100 crore but the total allocation for the entire Rural Development Department is Rs.54.14 crore for the year. "Where is the Rs.100 crore for the new Scheme?," the former Professor asked.
The establishment of three fish landing centres is proposed at a cost of Rs.51.78 crore but the entire outlay is Rs.63.22 crore for the Department of Fisheries. “Where is Rs.51.78 crore for these landing centres?," he questioned.
Ramadass has also questioned the feasibility of mobilising own resources of Rs.5267 or Rs.5247 crores particularly in the context of COVID-19 which has almost completely crippled the economy resulting in the decline in State Domestic product(SDP), employment, income, purchasing power and consumption.
The revenue loss was in the range of 80-90 per cent of the normal revenue in the first four months (April, May, June, July), he said adding that it may be 50 per cent in the next four months and 20 per cent in the last four months.
"The Territory may suffer a revenue loss of about Rs.2500 crore and it will end up with a resource of about Rs.3200 crore and definitely not Rs.5267 or 5247 crore. Government is bound to experience a deficit of about Rs.2000 crore unless it is magnanimously helped by the Centre which is most unlikely," he said.