Plan to pool unspent cash

Calcutta: The Bengal government will instruct all departments to return unspent funds to the finance department so that a corpus fund could be set up to launch infrastructure projects before the 2019 general elections.

Senior Nabanna officials said all the departments had already been asked to return the unutilised funds of the 2015-16 fiscal.#

"A total of Rs 1,200 crore was surrendered by several departments. The funds had been allotted in the 2015-16 financial year and could not be used even after two years. This gives a hint that a huge amount remains unspent after a financial year. The state government has decided that the funds would not be kept unutilised anymore," said a senior official.

Sources in the finance department said the government would issue an order asking departments to return unutilised funds of the 2016-17 financial year soon and the same for 2017-18 fiscal would be given after March 31.

"It is expected that a corpus fund of Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore could be set up with the unutilised cash. It would be a handsome amount to undertake some major projects ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year," said a senior official.

The Bengal government has of late been laying stress on pumping in money into major infrastructure projects. The chief minister has asked the public works department to repair, upgrade and lay about 3,000km of rural roads across the state.

Besides, the government has announced more than Rs 12,000 crore for building bridges, roads and flyovers in Calcutta and its adjoining areas.

"All these would require about Rs 20,000 crore... If unspent funds could be diverted to these projects, it would be easier for the cash-strapped government," said a finance department official.

An official has said agencies or departments withdraw the amounts soon after allotment and deposit the same in various bank accounts, following which the government loses the track of the disbursed amounts.#

"As a result, no body pushes the departments or agencies to complete projects on time. But this would not happen from now on," a senior Nabanna official said.


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