Odisha govt mulls ‘adjustment’ formula in supplementary budget

Bhubaneswar: As the 2019 elections inch closer, the state government is exploring an ‘adjustment’ formula for the upcoming supplementary budget.

In a letter to all departments asking them to submit their proposals, the Finance Department made it clear that the supplementary budget 2018-19 would be purely an adjustment budget. “The administrative departments would be allowed to augment the provision in one unit only by locating equivalent savings in some other unit of expenditure,” the letter read.

Stating that the government is in financial pressure at the moment due to increased expenditure on salary and pension after the revised scale as per recommendations of 7th pay Commission from October 2017, it directed the departments to spend the ‘allocated but unused’ funds first instead of going for new proposals.

The departments that have spent less than 20 percent of the budget provision by the end of June, 2018 shall not be considered for substantive supplementary provision, the department said.

It may be note that the departments are required to spend at least 60 percent of the budget provision by 31 December 2018.

“In administrative terms, the directive can be called as a cautionary measure which will encourage efficient expenditure,” said Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera.

While, political analysts opine that the move by the state government could be a game changer before the upcoming elections, questions are being raised if it could be an exercise to raise funds for incorporating new schemes before the polls.

For instance, even as the Biju Swasthya Yojana was not mentioned in the main budget this year, it was announced by the government. The recent move could be towards raising funds for allocation on such schemes.

Former finance minister Panchanan Kanungo said “The present financial condition of the state is not very good. The supplementary budget could bail the state government out of this crisis.”

“From the guidelines mentioned in the proposals it is clear that the state government is worried of its financial condition and hence management of funds is very crucial. It seems that the supplementary budget would be a limited one since it would mostly deal with adjusting funds between different units,” opined senior journalist Dillip Satpathy.