Plan utilisation 80 per cent on poll-eve spend

Rs 4500 crore spent during Feb &March alone

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A fag end expenditure surge has taken the plan fund utilization of 2015-16 fiscal to nearly 80 percent, a considerable improvement from last fiscal when utilisation was the lowest for the decade at 68.37 percent. Figures provided by the Finance Department show that the state Government had spent a mammoth Rs 4500 crore during February and March alone, the last months of the fiscal.

The late fiscal surge is not surprising considering the customary political spending on the eve of elections. “Utilisation is normally seen to go up during fiscals leading up to the Assembly elections,” a top Finance Department official said. That there is a political angle to the spending is demonstrated by the swell in the spending of the Public Works Department.

PWD has overshot its plan outlay by over 100 percent. The outlay for PWD for 2015-16 fiscal was Rs 1087.84 crore but ended up spending Rs 2277.77 crore, an increase of 109 percent. Significantly, PWD is the only crucial Department that had outdid its target.

However, there is skepticism about the figures. “The UDF government has always inflated figures to fake a better show,” said Gopan Mukundan of Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad. “These are the figures furnished by the Department. After the Accountant General vets these figures, I am sure the utilization will fall way below as has always been the case in the last four years,” he added.

The Department official also conceded that all the amount shown as expenditure need not have been spent. “Some of it will be moved into the ledger account of a concerned Department, and would be used only in the ongoing fiscal,” the official said.

The UDF government has stepped up plan outlays considerably every year but has invariably failed to achieve the target. “The Chandy government might have scored some brownie points by scaling up the outlay every year but the tragedy is that the utilization has invariably failed to reach at least even touching distance of the target,” said Jacob Sebastian, finance expert.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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