Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 5:
With Odisha’s annual budget for 2015-16 scheduled to be presented in the State Assembly on February 16, deliberations on sectoral allocation have begun in the state.
It may be mentioned that the volume of the state’s annual budget is on the rise every year.
While the size of the state’s annual budget in 2013-14 and 2014-15 was Rs 60,000 crore and Rs 80,000 crore, it is expected that the annual budget of the state in the current fiscal would be around Rs 90,000 crore.
With the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission to increase the Central assistance from 42 percent to 50 percent, Odisha is expected to get an additional Rs 6000 crore assistance in the current fiscal.
The state government is optimistic about meeting its revenue collection target as the process for action of mines has begun in the state.
While the contribution of the service sector to the state’s economy remains the highest with 59 percent followed by the industry sector with 25 percent and agriculture sector with only 16 percent, it remains to be seen as to how much allocation is made in the state’s annual budget to the social sector that includes education, health, food security, housing and SC, ST and OBC development.
The state government, during the 2014-15 budget had made Rs 3897 crore allocation for Health, Rs 11,526 crore for Education and Rs 3736 crore for Infrastructure sector.
As the state government, in its election manifesto had announced to convert all kutcha houses to pucca houses in the next five years, it is expected that more allocations would be made on this head in this year’s budget.
It is also hoped that the there would be more budget allocations for infrastructure development works for the ensuing Nabakalebara festival.
Besides, as the state government has given top priority to the development of agriculture sector and has been formulating special agri budget since last two years, it is expected that there would be more allocations on this sector in this year’s budget.
The budget allocations for the Agriculture sector in the last year’s budget was Rs 9542 crore.
“Odisha’s budget allocation for the social sector in the last year’s budget was 35 percent which is comparatively less than the neighbouring states of Bihar and Chhattisgarh. In my opinion, the social sector allocations in the annual budget of Odisha this year should be at least 40 percent so that the problems in the Education and Health sectors of the state can be met”, said Jagadananda, well-known social activist and former chief information commissioner (CIC) of Odisha.
The state government has made it clear that since raising the volume of allocations will not solve the purpose, efforts should be made to ensure that the funds utilization has to be made within specified timeframe for which the government has prepared online cash management system (CMS) with a stipulation that at least 60 utilisation of funds has to be made in the third quarter fiscal by December every year.
However, a recent review meeting by the chief secretary has revealed that most of the departments have utilized only 49 percent of funds of the 2014-15 budget by December last year.
Taking note of this, the chief secretary told these departments that they cannot utilize not more than 25 percent of the funds in the first two months till February and more than 15 percent till March, and asked them to return the surplus and unutilized fund to the Finance department.
“As mobilization of resources remains a challenge for the state government, utilization of funds is also equally challenging for which the state government should develop a mechanism to ensure complete utilization of funds in a specified time frame”, said former Finance minister Prafulla Ghadai.