GUWAHATI, March 2 � Failure of various departments of the Assam Government to utilise allocated funds seriously affected development of the State. According to a report, an astronomical amount of around Rs 86,000 crore could not be utilised in the last ten years.
A presentation by Shantanu Basu, Principal Accountant General of Assam, who is now on leave, outlined the dismal financial scenario of the State and pointed out that every year, substantial amounts of funds including Plan allocations remained unspent. As such money is not available lawfully after March 31, its utilisation remained unknown, said Basu.
A transcript of the presentation, which is available with The Assam Tribune, shows details of the financial health of the State during the ten-year period from 2002-03 to 2011-12. It said that Budget surrender and undrawn amounts pointed to ineffective scheme monitoring and evaluation. He pointed out that being a special category State, Assam receives a substantial amount of grants, but most of the money remained unspent. The presentation pointed out that in the year 2011-12, Assam had an unspent balance which amounted to more than 25 per cent of the total appropriation.
The presentation revealed that only the Plan scheme surrender during the period from 2009-10 to 2011-12 alone amounted to Rs 16,951 crore. Such surrender or failure to utilise the money resulted in artificial revenue surplus and artificially lowered the fiscal deficit.
The presentation pointed out that the various departments of the Assam Government involved in utilisation of the welfare schemes failed to utilise the funds allocated. Though the State is always hit by floods, the Water Resources Department failed to utilise funds allocated to it during the ten years. The failure to utilise funds was to the tune of 38 to 60 per cent. Similarly, funds had to be surrendered in key sectors like social security, welfare and nutrition, urban development, roads and bridges, power, healthcare etc., which, in turn, seriously affected the overall development of the State.
Moreover, heavy spending on payment of wages also resulted in low spending on social services. Owing to relatively high inflation and rising wages of Government employees, the expenditure on revenue account increased by an annual average of more than 18 per cent, while, the capital expenditure increased only by two to three per cent. The State is yet to achieve self sufficiency in productivity and the number of job seekers is increasing by more than 17 percent every year. Assam is lagging behind the basic parameters of quality life including energy, roads, health care etc, while, the power shortage is compounded by 26 per cent transmission and distribution loss.
The presentation pointed out that though Assam's GSDP increased by 12.7 percent in 2011-12, the increase in other special category states was much higher. Basu pointed out in his presentation that the GSDP increase in Uttarakhand in the same year was more than 24 per cent, while, the increase in Sikkim was more than 19 per cent.