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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: When the State has recorded a higher unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent in 2017-18, compared to 6.1 per cent nationally, the vacancies in State government offices have gone up by a whopping 14,000.

Sample this. The vacancies in various State government departments were at 1.16 lakh (1,16,987) in 2016-17, as per the interim budget presented by the then FM Sashi Bhusan Behera in Feb-March this year.

As per the data provided by FM Niranjan Pujari in Assembly today, the  State is saddled with over 1.2 lakh (1,20,512) vacancies at various positions in the State government departments. And if the vacancies in  its aided institutions and PSUs are included, the total vacancies have gone up to 1.3lakh (1,31,518) in 2017-18.

An analysis of Interim budget document and FM Pujari's statement today shows that  the job vacancies, overall, have risen by at least around 5 per cent in many vital departments over the period of 2015-18.

However,  a comparative analysis for the period of 2015-18 revealed that  Odisha Government  had recruited in around 20,000 posts. As on March end 2018, around 26 per cent of over 4.97 lakh sanctioned posts in the State institutions are lying vacant.

The comparative data with 2015-16 reveals a rise in vacancies in some vital departments like Home, Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Rural Development, Works, Cooperation, Food & Civil Supplies, Skill
Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water etc.

The significant fact is in 2017-18 the State had  around 10 lakh job aspirants searching for a suitable job. The State government’s hands-off approach towards such large-scale vacancies is primarily attributed to tight fiscal situation at hand, notwithstanding rosy claims.

Sample this. When State’s own revenue receipts in 2019-20 is projected at around Rs 45, 500 crore, the State’s administrative expenditure estimated at a whopping Rs 57,310 crore is more than the estimated own revenue receipts. And salary & pension expenditure together in 2019-20 is being pegged higher  at over Rs 38,800 crore or around 7 per cent of State’s GSDP.

In contrast, State’s own revenue receipts account for mere 8.41 per cent of GSDP in 2019-20. Another disconcerting fact for the State finances is the debt stock of the State in 2019-20 is projected at 93.8 per cent of its total revenue receipts, including Central taxes and grants devolved.

Given the poor financial indicators, the recruitment for such large vacancies, even, looks remotely possible in near future too.

Among the sectors that are saddled with the most vacancies are School and Mass Education followed by Health and Family Welfare. While a high of around 25,000 vacancies at various levels were reported in School and Mass Education department, Health and Family Welfare with a vacancy list of nearly 14,000 emerges the second in the vacancy list. Agriculture and Farmers Development department follows with over 5,000 vacancies.

Even, Unicef and UNDP officials see no reason why the government is letting the vacancies fester in such important departments.

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