THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In an ambitious move to present the 2018-19 Budget on January 8, 2018, and get it passed in the Assembly before March 31, the State Government has drawn up a tough schedule for departments to submit their revenue and expenditure plans for the next fiscal. Under the revised time-table, departments will have to submit their non-plan revenue expenditure for the next fiscal (which includes salaries, and interest payments) by July 3, their plan expenditure details, and also details of revenue and other receipts, by August 5.
Normally, such details are furnished only towards the end of the year, by November or December. “Next fiscal, the plan is to begin development work by the start of the fiscal, on April 1 itself,” a top department official said. “This fiscal we had managed to grant administrative sanction for most of the plan projects by the end of May,” the official said. The full Budget was passed only by May 18 but by then sanction was already issued for projects worth Rs 1500 crore-plus; most of which were included in the 'green book', a document that lists projects that are to be taken up on an urgent basis. Further, this fiscal the Panchayat Plan Formulation Guidelines, traditionally brought out during June, was released on April 2.
The local bodies, as a result, had the time to devise projects and get it approved by the District Planning Committee, a laborious time-consuming process. This time, more than 75 per cent of local body plan has been finalised. “The rest will be finalised on June 15,” the official said. When guidelines are put out late, local bodies struggle to get the necessary approvals even by November. No wonder, local bodies have always been the worst performers in terms of plan fund utilisation. To weed out what has been termed “idle investments”, the heads of departments and the controlling officers have been instructed to critically review the programmes or schemes or works and justify their continuance and attach the review along with their Budget Estimates.