Himachal banking on 12th five year plan to bail it out

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Shimla: With the salary bill having spiked up by 25 percent on account of pay arrears, the state finances are in dire straits and planners are banking on the 12 five year plan to bail them out.

Given the difficult financial scenario, the planning department is working overtime to draw up the 12th five year plan proposals that are soon to be presented to the planning commission, sources disclosed.

Whereas the 11th five year plan (2007-12) was approved for Rs 13,868 crore, sources revealed that the state planning department had drawn up an ambitious Rs 28,000 crore plan for 2012-17 that could help to bail the state out for the current financial morass.

As the finance department gets down to working on the next budget, an unforeseen shortfall in revenue receipts has made balancing of the current budget an uphill task.

When contacted, principal secretary Srikant Baldi mentioned that the states power receipts were falling short from what had been projected because of lower power sale prices than the previous year.

Out of the Rs 16,708 crore budget approved for the current year, the salary bill of regular employees alone takes a big slice out of the cake.

Against a salary bill of Rs 4455 crore in 2009-10 it is likely to touch Rs 5882 crore in current financial year that is over 35 percent of the budget, said a source familiar with government accounting.

However, Baldi maintained that the salary bill of employees has been budgeted for. He added, “the salary bill includes pay arrears that are still to be cleared.

Shrinking the cake further is a Rs 2210 crore bill for 1.15 lakh pensioners, Rs 2152 interest charges on the about Rs 27,000 crore accumulated debt of the state, about Rs 1100 crore bill on maintenance of public infrastructure and a Rs 1168 crore loan re-payment due this year.

“Pension bill has increased by Rs 200 crore over last year,” said Baldi.

With downsizing the government having become imperative, sources claimed that the number of regular government employees had fallen from 190,560 in March 2010 to about 187,000 in March 2011.

A decline in regular employees has at the same time resulted in rise in contract employees that have shot up from about 9000 in 2010 to over 12,000 in 2011.

Other than the regular employees, there are about 38,000 employed in state public sector undertaking and another 3500 in local bodies.

Editor-Reporter with Hill Post, Ravinder Makhaik as a journalist has for over two decades worked for India’s leading newspapers and television networks.

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