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Karnataka: Finance department a hurdle to quick implementation of budget proposals – Times of India

BENGALURU: With the budget for 2022-23 passed and the legislature session drawing to a close, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has embarked on a mission to implement his budget promises from April 1, the first day of the new fiscal.
However, officials and experts are sceptical. They say very little will happen unless the CM secures quick approvals from the finance department – which he heads – and ensures the release of funds on time.
Bommai is especially keen to implement all his budgetary proposals after Siddaramaiah, leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly, during a debate on the finance bill for 2022-23, pointed out that about 30% of last year’s budget assurances have not seen the light of the day.
Quoting from the action take report (ATR), Siddaramaiah said the government had failed to issue orders for 53 of the 382 schemes announced in the budget for 2020-21, and more than 70 schemes received orders [GOs] and funds only in January-February.
“The schemes for which there are no government orders will eventually be dropped and schemes for which GOs were issued in February will not be implemented since the respective departments cannot spend the money by the end of the financial year [about a month’s time],” said Siddaramaiah.
To overcome these shortcomings, Bommai has already written to the heads of 39 key departments, directing them to issue GOs for proposals pertaining to their departments on April 1.
Bommai had announced some 370 schemes in his maiden budget and officials in the chief minister’s office say efforts are on to implement all of them. “I have taken it upon myself to implement all the budget proposals and departments must deliver,” said Bommai.
He has appointed a panel headed by the chief secretary to monitor implementation and said he will personally review progress at a meeting every month.
With 24 budget proposals, the health department tops the list and officials are scrambling to issue GOs for as many schemes as possible on April 1. However, they complain that they are not receiving expected cooperation from the finance department.
“There is no hassle in issuing GOs for continuation of ongoing schemes. The difficulty is with new schemes,” said a health department official after an internal meeting on budget implementation on Tuesday. “We have sent GOs which the finance department has to approve. The speed of implementation depends entirely on how quickly the finance department disburses funds. The response so far has not been very encouraging,”
Experts say the onus is on the CM to ensure a quick response from his department. “It needs earnest intent,” said Jyotsna Jha, director, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies. “It has been a practice to announce fancy schemes only to add glamour to the budget. These are usually forgotten by the end of the financial year. We hope Bommai will not make the same mistake.”

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