Austerity drive in Meghalaya

Faced with financial constraints, the Meghalaya government has issued a slew of directives to its officials to observe strict austerity measures.

By Our Correspondent
  • Published 13.09.18
  •  

Shillong: Faced with financial constraints, the Meghalaya government has issued a slew of directives to its officials to observe strict austerity measures.

"In the context of the budgetary deficit and the resource constraints faced by the state government during the current financial year, it has become imperative to curtail expenditure and observe strict austerity in all areas of expenditure," Meghalaya principal secretary (finance) R.V. Suchiang said in a recent letter to principal secretaries, commissioner and secretaries, secretaries and heads of departments.

In March, the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, led by chief minister Conrad K. Sangma, tabled a deficit budget of Rs 1,150 crore, which was around 3.32 per cent of the gross state domestic product (GSDP).

Former chief minister Mukul Sangma had put the fiscal deficit at Rs 1,236 crore in 2017-18, which was around 3.8 per cent of the GSDP.

Even last year, the state government had asked all departments to avoid unnecessary expenditure.

Suchiang directed that no new posts should be created without the prior concurrence of the finance department.

On travel expenses, she reiterated that tours within and outside the state should be regulated. For tours outside the state, approval of the minister in-charge or the chief secretary may be obtained.

Moreover, leave travel concession admissible has been temporarily withdrawn until further orders. However, LTC on the eve of retirement, that is within a year of retirement, will be allowed after approval from the finance department.

While officers have been advised to be strict in the purchase of furniture, furnishing and other items, employment of casual labourers should not exceed three months.

Further, controlling officers have been asked to ensure expenditure does not exceed the budgetary provision. "For any deviation of expenditure from the prescribed ceiling without prior authorisation, the controlling officers shall be directly accountable. Unauthorised expenditure over and above the budgetary provision will be dealt with severely and responsibility fixed," the letter said.

The government also gave directions for austerity in holding dinners and lunches while no new vehicles, machines and equipment can be purchased without permission.

Meghalaya has been hit hard since 2014 when the National Green Tribunal imposed a ban on illegal coal mining. The revenue loss owing to the ban is more than Rs 400 crore, sources said.