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Fast-track Andhra CEO admits falling back

Hyderabad, Nov. 3: Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has confessed that the growth rate in the gross domestic state product at 5.37 per cent is below the national average of 5.80 per cent.

Naidu said though Rs 38,981 crore has been spent in the last six months, there is no visible growth momentum. The agriculture sector has recorded a negative growth rate of 17.06 per cent, while the power, gas and water supply sectors have a negative rate of 3.60 per cent.

The half-yearly performance review held at the state government’s Marri Channareddy HRD centre has revealed that wrong yardsticks and guidelines had resulted in misleading figures of growth being portrayed earlier, which later had to be revised.

The brainstorming session also exposed the growing fissures between state home minister T. Devender Gowd and the chief minister. The two crossed swords over the system of grading the performance of officials and departments. The home minister stopped short of alleging that figures were fudged, but expressed shock that officials he thought had done well were graded low while those he knew to be non-performers were ranked high.

Worked up over the continuous criticism by his own ministers and the officials at the review meeting, the Andhra CEO lashed out at the officials. “If anything is not working or is wrong, you alone can be blamed for the lapses in identifying the loopholes,” contended Naidu.

The review also exposed the growing red-tape in the Naidu administration. Of the nearly 97,866 files generated in the secretariat during the year, only 10,780 — 11.02 per cent — had been cleared. Similarly, 3.32 lakh files were taken up by the departments, of which only — 1.02 lakh — were cleared .

About 80,000 files in the secretariat and 2.1 lakh in the departments are due to be digitised to implement online file clearance. However, IT secretary J. Satyanarayana says they have “so far digitised only 4,000 files and scanned around 16,000 old files”.

The Naidu government has also approached the World Bank for early release of structural loans to meet financial contingencies. The state is facing a cash crunch, and would need overdrafts from December to even pay salaries because of the low growth rates and the delay in World Bank funds for anti-poverty programmes.

Naidu also faced a stream of complaints from ministers and heads of departments against the functioning of the secretariat and the finance department, which irked people in the Chief Minister’s Office and the departments of planning and finance.

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