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Unused funds bane of govt

- Budget session starts today

Ranchi, Feb. 18: The budget session of the Jharkhand Assembly beginning tomorrow is likely to witness something unusual.

When the government presents the budget for the 2014-15 fiscal on Friday, the net load on the state exchequer will be “positive” for the first time in view of poor utilisation of funds under the plan heads of the 2013-14 financial year.

Till January, state government departments had utilised around 32-33 per cent of the Rs 16,800 crore earmarked under the plan head. So, a large portion of the plan head funds will remain unused in the exchequer.

“This means there will not be any fiscal deficit this time. Therefore, the government will not have any extra financial liability in the 2014-15 financial year. It may sound good, but a surplus budget is not a healthy sign in terms of the economy,” explained a senior bureaucrat, underlining the poor state of affairs in Jharkhand.

However, keeping with convention, the government is planning to hike the plan head allocation to over Rs 18,000 crore for the 2014-15 financial year.

Moreover, the poor performance of several departments will see the government presenting on Thursday its third supplementary budget for the current fiscal, which will come to an end on Mach 31.

Highly placed sources said the Rs 1,200-crore supplementary budget would mainly involve adjustment or diversion of funds amongst a few performing and non-performing departments.

The Opposition, understandably, is gearing up to launch an all-out attack on the treasury benches.

So, when the House assembles tomorrow, chief minister Hemant Soren will face some uncomfortable questions on issues ranging from sand ghat auctions, teachers’ protest to poor law and order, apart from poor utilisation of funds.

JVM legislative party leader Pradeep Kumar Yadav is ready with facts and figures to embarrass the government.

“Despite assurance of the cabinet, the Hemant Soren government is yet to cancel tenders of sand ghats. It hasn’t been able to spend much of the plan funds, while school and college teachers are up in arms against the government,” said Yadav, spelling out the issues on which they will target the government.

This apart, the ongoing spat between Hemant and his rural development minister Chandra Shekhar Dubey may also embarrass the coalition members during the budget session that will stretch till March 7.

Today, as per convention, Assembly Speaker S.S. Bhokta held a meeting of all political parties.