GUWAHATI, April 29 - Citing an eighty per cent drop in revenue collection in April due to the lockdown, the State Government today announced a slew of austerity measures, which included reduction in establishment expenditure, ban on government functions and suspension of industrial exemptions, to �rationalize expenditure and optimize available resources� during the crisis period.
Unlike many other states, the government, however, did not slash the salaries of employees, but has put on hold new projects and will give priority to complete old ones.
Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the current fiscal situation was a worry for the State government as the revenue collection for the month of April fell to Rs 193 crore (SGST Rs 68 crore, CGST Rs 61 crore, IGST Rs 62 crore and cess Rs 2 crore) as compared to Rs 932 crore (SGST Rs 406 crore, CGST Rs 276 crore, IGST Rs 193 crore and cess Rs 55 crore) in the corresponding month last year.
�The revenue collection has dropped by eighty per cent. From tax on foreign liquor, the State got Rs 6 crore in April as compared to Rs 65 crore in March. Similarly, from fuel taxes, the State got Rs 60 crore compared to Rs 360 crore in the previous month,� he informed.
The committed expenses of the State government � which includes salaries, pension and interest on loan � is around Rs 3,600 crore every month.
Stating that the �crisis was still developing�, the Minister said the austerity measures announced today could be either extended or curtailed depending on the situation.
� The Administrative Department cannot implement any new SOPD scheme without the approval of the Finance department. Sanctioning power delegated to the Administrative departments relating to the issuance of administrative approval and financial sanction in respect of SOPD Schemes has been withdrawn until further orders. However, the delegated power of the departments in respect of Centrally sponsored schemes and externally funded projects will continue.
� The Establishment Expenditure for the first quarter of the Financial Year 2020-21 has been capped at 10 per cent of the total budget instead of 20 per cent.
� All expenses pertaining to industrial exemptions, subsidies and incentives of various sectors have been suspended until further orders. No reimbursement of GST to industries will be allowed in the first quarter of the current financial year.
� Purchase of vehicles has been banned until further orders, except in case of ambulances and vehicles required for police duty. This will, however, be permitted only with the approval of the Chief Minister.
� Holding of conferences, workshops, seminars, fairs and functions etc has been totally banned in the first quarter in the physical mode. There will be a ban on holding of meetings and conferences in five star hotels.
� No executive class will be allowed except in the case of Governor of Assam, Chief Minister, Chief Justice, other Judges of Gauhati High Court and Chief Secretary.
� General Administrative Department will use discretion in declaration of visiting dignitaries as State Guests and follow all norms.
� No officer will be allowed to attend any foreign training course, workshop, seminar outside India for which expenditure has to be borne by the State Government.
� Remuneration of Chairman and Vice Chairman of all PSUs/ Corporations/ Boards will be reduced by 25 per cent from May 1.
� Release of MLA Area Development Fund will remain suspended in the first four months of the current financial year or until further orders.