The Union home ministry has said that a reply from Arvind Kejriwal-led government on Delhi budget is “awaited for the last four days”. L-G VK Saxena had raised some concerns regarding fiscal interest. While the action sought should be immediate, the AAP government is yet to submit its reply, the ministry stated.
The Union home ministry’s statement comes after CM Kejriwal, speaking at a News18 eventsaid that it was for the first time in the history of the country that a budget of a government was put on hold. A video clip of his speech, accusing the Centre of “gundagardi” was also tweeted by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs told News18 that draft budget only had 20% allocation for capital expenditure, which is inadequate for Delhi since it is the capital of the country.
“Kejriwal government has doubled expenditure on advertising in last two years. And hence, the L-G sought a clarification on it. L-G has also sought to know why benefits for central government schemes like ‘Ayushman Bharat’ were being denied to Delhiites,” the sources added.
BIG BREAKING‼️There will be no budget presentation in Delhi tomorrow.
It has happened for the first time in the history of India that the budget of Delhi Govt was to be presented yesterday and this evening the central government has banned the budget.
Outright hooliganism is going on.
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) March 20, 2023
In an official statement, the MHA said, “The Annual Financial Statement (Budget) for the year 2023-23 and the second and last batch of Supplementary Demands for the year 2022-23 was received in the Ministry of Home Affairs, under the provisions of Section 27(1) and Section 30(1) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 for the previous sanction of the President of India for laying it before the Legislative Assembly of Delhi.”
“The Lieutenant Governor, Delhi, had raised certain concerns of administrative nature on the proposed Budget, keeping in view the fiscal interest of the National Capital Territory on which MHA vide its letter dated 17.03.2023 has requested GNCTD to resubmit the Budget addressing these concerns for taking further action. The reply from GNCTD is awaited for last four days. For the benefit of the people of Delhi, the GNCTD should submit reply immediately,” the statement further read.
What L-G VK Saxena Has Pointed Out
The Lieutenant-Governor, in his observations, pointed out that the expenditure incurred by the Directorate of Information and Publicity as per “the Revised Estimate 2022-23 is Rs 272.21 crore against the Budget Estimate of Rs 511.64 crore”. However, the allocation for the Budget estimate is Rs 557.24 crore, which seems “incomprehensible and unjustifiable”.
L-G VK Saxena had earlier too red-flagged the issue of ad spend. Three months ago, Saxena had sent a note to the Chief Secretary, which stated, “Being the constitutional head of government of NCT, I deem it appropriate to observe with concern that the expenditure on account of advertisements/ publicity by the Govt of NCT of Delhi has increased from Rs 15 crore to Rs 568 crore, a jump of 3,787% approx in 9 years.”
In the note dated December, the L-G also highlighted ad spend on one project in particular — the Pusa bio-decomposer. According to a report in Indian Expressthe L-G stated that this was “a classic example of wasteful expenditure, which is in gross violation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court order”.
“The cost for the bio-decomposer project was Rs 41.62 lakh, whereas the expenditure incurred for advertising it was Rs 16.94 crore, which is 40 times higher than the project cost,” he wrote.
Statement from L-G’s Office
While approving the proposal in para 14 of page 12/N, I would like to highlight the following concerns related to the proposed Annual Financial Statement 2023-24, in the interest of fiscal health of the Union Territory, which may also be brought to the notice of the competent statutory authority:
- As against proposed Budget size of Rs.78,800 crore, the expenditure on Capital components is indicated at Rs.21,816 crore, which is only 27.68% of the Budget. Further, this also includes Rs.5,586.92 crore on account of loan repayment, which, if excluded will further reduce the Capital component to Rs.16,230 crore which is only 20% of the Budget. Since Delhi is the country’s Capital and also a large metropolis in which need for creation and improvements of infrastructure is extremely important, the allocation for Capital Projects does not appear to be sufficient.
- Rs.4,788.83 crore is proposed to be allocated for payment of subsidies, which mainly involves compensation to various agencies against uneconomic recoveries of costs of power, drinking water and bus tickets. Further, the Budget also proposes a very significant allocation for meeting the shortfall in operating expenses of DJB and DTC. In effect, this would also amount to a subsidy given to these agencies, which are not able to recover the revenue expenditure. This aspect also needs to be closely monitored and addressed in future.
- On account of deficit in resources, it has been proposed to obtain Rs.10,000 crore as loan against NSSF deposits, which will have to be paid off in future years, thereby imposing additional burden on the Exchequer. It has to be ensured that the resources obtained through loan are utilized for infrastructure creation rather than being spent on establishment expenditure or subsidy.
- The Government of India is providing a large amount of funds under various Central Schemes and Delhi being a UT, can obtain such funds with minimal matching share. However, the entire potential under Central Scheme has not been fully utilized by Delhi. A case in example, the Flagship Scheme of ‘Ayushman Bharat’, has not yet been adopted by Delhi due to which CSS funds under health sector are not made available. The Union Territory needs to obtain all possible funds under Central Schemes to augment its resources and also to meet national goals.
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