By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 27 Aug: The CAG report for the financial year 2019-20, tabled in the Vidhan Sabha, yesterday, has made several revelations about the state’s financial condition. The CAG report reveals that, as of March 31, 2020, the Uttarakhand Government was burdened with a debt burden of about Rs 65,982 crores. The worrying fact is that instead of decreasing, the debt burden has increased over the past few years even as the GDP growth rate of the state has been badly affected.
The CAG in its report has also raised serious questions on the financial management of the state. As per the reports, loans were taken from the open market at expensive rates of interest in April, July, August, September and December, when according to the CAG claims, it wasn’t required. The CAG report has also pointed out the glaring fact that the majority of Public Sector enterprises of Uttarakhand are incurring heavy financial losses and these included the Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited which is the only power supplier in the state.
Even when the state was taking loans from the open market, it is surprising that budgetary allocations amounting to Rs 259 crores released under various schemes and development works remained unspent, leaving an unutilised surplus for the government. This further raises the question whether the loans were required at all by the government to meet financial requirements of the state.
Secondly, non-utilisation of funds for the development projects can hardly be justified and this indicated needless parking of funds according to the CAG report.
One major reason behind non-utilisation of funds is also delay in allocation of budget to the departments. Sometimes, the budget is released just months before the end of the financial year which leads to either haphazard spending or non utilisation of the funds. The CAG in its report has expressed concern that the surrender of Rs 259 crore on the last day of the financial year resulted in the disruption of many other important development works.
The CAG report also points out that a huge amount of Rs 2481 crores sanctioned in the supplementary budget for the year in question also remained unutilised. The report adds that while such a major allocation was sanctioned through a supplementary budget, the government was clueless on its utilisation.
The report also reveals that 20 state public sector undertakings like UPCL are incurring huge losses. The share of UPCL alone in the loss of Rs 634 crores was 91 percent at more than Rs 577 crores. The PSUs that earned profit for the government included UJVNL, PTCUL and Van Vikas Nigam. The CAG report also expressed concern over the rapidly declining contribution of the agriculture sector to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). The CAG report further expressed concern about the revenue deficit of the state. The revenue deficit was at Rs 980 crores in the year 2018-19, which increased to Rs 2136 crores in the financial year 2019-20.
By Arun Pratap Singh