The Government of Assam has suddenly become extra conscious about "extra" expenditure incurred by its various departments and organizations, with Dispur deciding to stop printing of wall calendars, desk calendars, diaries, greetings cards and coffee-table books. Simultaneously, it has also decided to promote digital technology in order to minimize "extra" expenditure. According to an Office Memorandum issued by the State Finance department, the world is increasingly moving towards adopting digital force multipliers for productive use of technological innovations for planning, scheduling and forecasting which is known to be economical, efficient and effective. Given this backdrop, the Finance department has instructed all departments to do away with physical printing of wall calendars, desk calendars, diaries, greetings cards etc and go for digital versions of the same. Dispur has also "banned" printing of coffee-table books and suggested encouraging appropriate use of e-books.
Thus, all departments have been directed to make efforts to adopt innovative means to use digital or online methods. Dispur must be congratulated for identifying one important area of "extra" expenditure through which a sizeable sum of funds from the public exchequer goes out every year in the name of printing calendars, greetings cards and diaries. As far as coffee-table books is concerned, not all government departments are known to have brought any significant books of this nature. It will be of interest to the citizens in general and tax-payers in particular to find out how much money actually goes out from the state exchequer in the name of printing the above-mentioned items every year. May be an RTI query in the Finance department or a question in the State Legislative Assembly session will bring to light the exact amount of "extra" expenditure taking place in the name of printing the above-mentioned items. It will be also of interest to the citizens to know what other areas the Finance department can probably identify where such "extra" expenditure has been happening in different government departments. One such area could be the total expenditure incurred while holding a foundation stone-laying ceremony of any project – be it a new industry or a new institution building, or a 200-metre long by-lane in a locality in Guwahati city.
Likewise, the Finance department can probably also find out how much "extra" expenditure is being made every time the government holds a function to distribute appointment letters or tractors, laptops, bicycles etc under various schemes. Felicitating a minister by officers of his or her own department every time there is a departmental meeting with phula gamosas, bouquets, jaapis and xorais could be another area where the Finance department can discover the exact amount of "extra" expenditure incurred from the tax-payers' money. How much "extra" expenditure is incurred for purchasing costly flowers for decorating the stage and podium when a minister attends an official function? Will the importance of such a function be lowered if the stage and the podium is not decorated with costly flowers which are often known to be even flown in from Kolkata because the "local" flowers are ordinary and of low quality? What about doing away with serving coffee in government offices, particularly in Dispur and serving tea instead? Won't this cut down "extra" cost on one hand and promote the state's most important produce – tea – at the same time? What about cutting down "extra" expenditure by doing away with the practice of putting up flex banners by different government departments?