Mamata calls for austerity
Kolkata: In an extremely determined austerity drive, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee directed her Cabinet colleagues and government officials to go for an "effective utilisation of resources" that would ensure that common man's money is not spent for luxury. Following a high-level meeting at the Nabanna Sabhaghar, Banerjee said that committees under Chief Secretary Malay De have been formed to monitor and monetise resources.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, she said measures were required to cut down avoidable expenses.
She added: "We have to check unnecessary expenditure but there will be no compromise on expenses to ensure better public services."
Mentioning the manifold increase in the planned budget since 2011, Banerjee stated that money is needed to give better service to the people and at the same time the leftover debt of the erstwhile Left Front government also needed to be cleared. She further stated that the state government has so far cleared Rs 2.40 lakh crore and this year, it has given Rs 46,000 crore for the debt. The Chief Minister has also taken a dig at the Centre for its step-motherly attitude as its allocation of funds for various projects have been reduced. This comes at the time when the state government's exchequer will cost around Rs 5,000 crore as its employees will be getting Dearness Allowance (DA) at 125 percent from January 1 of 2019.
Banerjee, under whose leadership the state has witnessed an overall development in the past seven years, maintained: "We also run several projects for the benefits of the people including Kanyashree, Rupashree and Khadya Sathi."
In the same breath, she said: "Planned budget in 2011 was Rs 11,000 crore. But now it has been increased to Rs 80,000 crore. At the same time, Rs 18,000 crore also has to be invested for infrastructure development."
Banerjee maintained that the planned expenditure and capital expenditure have gone up by five times and nine times respectively. The physical and social expenditure has gone up by four times each. Income of farmers has also gone up by three times.
"Our government is the first to introduce e-governance and e-tendering mechanism. We have received several awards and it has also helped in ensuring better service to people," she added.
Urging the officials to be more effective and innovative in their ideas, the Chief Minister further said: "We are trying our best to bring down expenses and provide better services to people. The number of departments has also been brought down to 51 from 63 by merging 12 departments." She has also urged all to be more proactive as there are many areas that still remained untouched and steps need to be taken to work in those sectors.
She also urged for steps so that there is no loss due to "faulty tender" process. She said that there will also be training for Financial Advisors and the Public Works Department will arrange training for engineers.
Emphasising the need to rationalise human resources, the Chief Minister said: "Whatever we can save will be utilised for the benefit of the masses."