Odisha asks departments to make proposals based on actual needs

With COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacting State’s financial health, the Odisha government directed different departments to prepare proposals based on actual needs for supplementary provisions.

The direction was issued as various departments had in previous years surrendered substantial amount without spending them.

Supplementary statement of expenditure for the financial year 2020-21 will be presented in the Odisha Legislative Assembly towards the month of November.

In a letter to all department, State Finance Secretary Ashok Meena said, “the fight against COVID appears longer, which would require higher expenditure. However. the strategic lockdown and shutdown to contain the pandemic has adversely affected the economic activities and revenue realization. The national and State economy are likely to contract during 2020-21. There would be resource shortfall both on account of central transfer as well as own revenue.”

According to him, the Odisha Budget, 2020-21 was presented in the Assembly on February 18, 2020 prior to onset of the pandemic with focus of the budget on reviving the healthcare — through upgradation of existing facilities and building new state-of-art medical infrastructure, creating industrial and skill development hubs, boosting tourism and transforming rural and urban Odisha.

“The enduring pandemic has completely changed the scenario. In the pandemic situation, life is above the rest. Saving life of the people has been the first priority of the government. Specialized health infrastructures have been created with critical care facilities and ventilator support for treatment of the COVID patients,” he said.

‘Situation under control’

Stating that owing to the prompt real-time decision making and responsiveness of the government, he said COVID situation in the State remained well within control. “States have been allowed additional borrowing of 2% of GSDP with certain conditions. The contraction of the GSDP along-with availing higher borrowing can jeopardise the debt sustainability unless a prudent fiscal path is adopted in medium term,” said the Finance Secretary.

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