Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Orissa Government took all steps to provoke the Opposition to stay away from debates over demands of most of the departments and finally from the Appropriation Bill. A section of media constituting the puppet press went on projecting as if the Opposition was not interested in the debates. Demands were adopted through guillotine. But much after the Budget session of Orissa Legislative Assembly, Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadei has admitted that the Government in various departments including General Administration Department handled by the Chief Minister himself has failed to utilize the funds allotted last year. Now it is clear why the Government was precipitating stalemates in the Assembly and pushing the budgetary demands into guillotine sans discussion.
The departments that have failed to utilize appropriated funds are General Administration, Women and Child Development, Supplies, ST & SC Development, Health & Family Welfare, Higher Education and School & Mass education.
Orissa Legislative Assembly had constituted Standing Committees for all the departments to scrutinize demands for grants for 2006-2007 and they had submitted their reports. But, the Government mismanaged the floor to such an extent that these reports could not be reflected in budget discussions in any noteworthy manner. However, from these reports it transpires that the government had suppressed facts before the Committees. As for example, the Secretary of Higher Education had informed the Committee that the department was suffering from funds crunch. To quote the report: The Secretary (Higher Education) explained that the department was not in a position to make payment of grant-in-aid salary to non-government colleges and institutions during the year 2004-05, as there was no sufficient budget provision for which a huge amount of arrear is outstanding against the department. The Committee for G.A. department has noted, Encroachment of valuable government land by the unscrupulous land grabbers poses threat to administration hampering public welfare and causes much inconvenience to public in their day to day life. The committee further noted that physical barriers like barbed wire fencing and compound wall, deployment of police force could have ensured land protection. It is surprising that when funds are lying unutilized, these essential steps for protection of valuable government land could not be taken due to paucity of fund!
It would be better for the Finance Minister to reveal as to how in spite of government works being hampered due to paucity of funds, there are funds that remain unutilized.