Bhubaneswar: Odisha government on Tuesday announced a slew of austerity measures to rationalise expenditure in a bid to cope up with the economic downturn due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to additional secretaries, principal secretaries and all departments, the Finance Department has stated that the State government has been fighting the pandemic to minimize the casualty. However, the nation-wide lockdown/ shutdown has interrupted the economic activities, resulting in shortfall in realization of resources.
Apart from COVID-19 management, there would be higher spending need for generating employment and livelihoods for the most affected sections of the society.
“All Administrative departments are required to prioritise their expenditure needs in order to limit the expenditure within the resources available with priority to make fiscal space for COVID-19 related expenditure,” the State finance department letter read.
Some key austerity measures announced by Odisha Government are as follows:
• There shall be complete ban on purchase of new vehicles for the next two years
• Travel/ official tours have to be avoided in general. Video Conferencing / use of IT for meetings/ official work should become preferred default mode.
• There shall be complete ban on travel outside the country and air travel in business class using government funds. Air journey should be avoided and meetings through Video Conferencing may be preferred. In exigencies approval of authority one level higher than the present delegation would be required for journey by air.
• There shall be complete ban on journey by train in 1st class AC by Government Officers
• New hiring of vehicles would require concurrence of Finance Department. Expenditure on POL shall be minimized.
• No Officer while on tour shall be allowed reimbursement for occupancy in any hotel in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai except when the Home Department has regretted availability of accommodation in the respective Government Bhawans or Niwas
• There shall be a complete ban on creation of new posts except for Health & Family Welfare Department. In case there is absolute necessity for creation of posts for modernization of administration or effective implementation of development and welfare programmes, the same shall be considered only against abolition of equivalent posts with concurrence of Finance Department.
• There shall be automatic abolition of redundant posts which have remained vacant for more than 5 years. All the Administrative Departments are to issue formal abolition order by 31st July 2020 and furnish a report to Finance Department and G.A and P.G Department.
• New engagement of consultants, outsourcing and engagement of retired Government employees shall be restricted and prior concurrence of Finance Department would be required for the purpose
Rationalisation of Establishment Expenditure :
a. There shall be complete ban on purchase of new equipment except medical equipment and equipment required for internal security. However, equipment required for promoting digital communication can be procured with concurrence of Finance Department.
b. There shall be complete ban on expenditure on renovation, remodelling, furnishing etc and purchase of furniture and fixtures in Government Offices.
c. There shall be complete ban on meetings, seminars, workshops and hosting of official lunch and dinner in hotels through Government funds. Video-Conferencing should be the preferred mode for meetings and conferences.
d. There shall be complete ban on sanction and drawl of new Long-term Advances (HBA, Motor Car Advance, Computer advance etc) and other advances. However, if a part of the HBA out of the total sanctioned amount is drawn, the balance will be allowed to be drawn.
e. There shall be complete ban on LTC for two years i.e. till 31st March, 2022.
f. Strict economy should be observed in the use of paper and other stationary articles. Use of electronic mode of communication (such as OSWAS, e-dispatch, e-Office etc) along-with digital/e-signatures should be the preferred mode instead of physical communication using paper.
g. Expenditure out of the provision ‘Other Contingencies’ to be kept at the minimum level. Only expenditure relating to COVID management and other essential expenditure like purchase of office stationery etc may be incurred. There shall be no expenditure on purchase of office furniture/ fixtures and furnishing. Expenditure out of the provision ‘Other Contingencies’ will be capped at 60% of the Budget Provision for the whole year.
h. Most economic scheme with unlimited call facility may be opted to minimize the telephone expenses.
Austerity in implementation of Schemes :
a. No new State Schemes/ Projects to be taken up by Administrative Departments except Health & Family Welfare Department. However, if any new scheme is essentially required for emergent public service, the same can be taken up only after appraisal by EFC/SFC following the due procedure and with specific concurrence of Finance Department for any expenditure under such scheme.
b. There shall be capping of expenditure on continuing State Schemes for the current financial year 2020-21 except schemes relating to Livelihoods in Agriculture & allied sector and expenditure for combating COVID-19. The list of such schemes will be shared with the Administrative Departments separately.
c. Operation and Maintenance expenditure can be incurred only after approval of Annual Maintenance Plan (AMP) by Finance Department. Engineering Departments to prepare their AMP for the year 2020-21 limiting it to a level of 60 % of the Budget provision, in consultation with Finance Department initially and on availability of resources balance work could start after November-2020.
d. Administrative expenditures, if permitted as part of State Scheme guidelines, should be minimized and restricted below 1% of the funds in that scheme. In case some manpower has been engaged for monitoring the scheme and there is difficulty in meeting their salary due to the above restriction, concurrence of Finance Department would be required for such additional expenditure.
e. No expenditure for renovating and re-furnishing of Offices, guest houses and Government buildings will be permitted. Expenditure for repair and renovation of Government quarter should be minimized. Expenditure of more than Rs.5 lakh for repair and renovation of any Government Office building and more than Rs.2 lakh for repair and renovation of any Government residential quarter during this year, would require approval of Government.
(Edited By Bikram Keshari Jena)