Assam paying dearly for non-submission of UCs for Rs 11,000 cr Central funds
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, May 16: Assam is in dire fincial straits. Developmental activities by the government have ground to a stop. Production in various sectors have been badly hit. The nightmare of working without salaries is re-visiting government employees while the outlook is bleaker yet for pensioners.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi loses no opportunity to blame the rendra Modi government at the Centre for cutting off funds to the State. But he glosses over the fact that his government is primarily to blame for the mess. For the actual reason behind the Central fund cut is the non-submission of utilization certificates to the tune of thousands of crores by Dispur, despite repeated reminders by the Centre.
And now in a devious bid to play politics over paying out salaries and pensions, Gogoi recently told mediapersons: “I will continue to give salaries to my employees as long as I am the Chief Minister of the State, but I don’t know what will happen after my tenure.”
These days Chief Minister Gogoi often blames the Central government for intentiolly meting out injustice to Assam by withholding funds. However, he does not once admit it is his government that is primarily at fault for the mess the State is in.
Given the structure of the country’s Centre-State relations, it is true that a State cannot survive in the long run without fincial support from the Central government. But proper and timely utilization of every rupee of Central funds is the responsibility of a State government. Here, the track record of Assam under Tarun Gogoi’s rule has been very dismal.
Gogoi recently said Assam will be deprived of Rs 7,000 crore of Central assistance this fincial year due to fund squeeze. “But Tarun Gogoi fails to see that utilization certificates (UCs) of Rs 11,000 crore were not submitted by his government to the Centre in the last few years,” pointed out sources in Dispur. As to the 17 and more departments under the Chief Minister himself, how many have submitted UCs — can he clarify?
Gogoi never loses an opportunity to speak wistfully of how the erstwhile Planning Commission liberally supported Assam fincially. But he conveniently neglects to mention that his government could avail of only 60 per cent of the funds allocated by the Planning Commission to Assam in the last few years. The reason for this tardiness was the same — repeated non-submission of UCs.
“It means that despite receiving funds from the Central government, the State government fails to utilize the same properly and timely,” sources said, adding, “The Chief Minister is now trying to create an impression that implementation and running of all schemes in the State are going to be severely hampered due to reduction of fund share for Assam by the rendra Modi government at the Centre.”
Sources, however, maintain that fund cut by the Centre will certainly impact some Central schemes in the State, but not all. “Due to reduced funds, the State government now has no other option but change the allocations made in the 2015-16 State budget which the Assembly had passed,” sources pointed out.
The Assam government has limited resources at its disposal, with the salary bill of its workforce already a crushing burden. The State government needs around Rs 14,000 crore annually to pay out salaries and pensions. Though a small percentage of the amount is shared by the Central government, it does little to lighten the burden on the State government’s shoulders.
“It is surprising that despite being well aware of the fincial mess Assam is in, Chief Minister Gogoi has announced he will give more government jobs to the people of the State. How will he do it?” sources wondered.