Fresh round of financial crisis looms ahead

IMPHAL, Jan 6 : Manipur may plunge into yet another phase of financial crisis in the near future if the resource mobilisation of the State could not be finalised within the next two/three years.

Interacting with The Sangai Express, officials of major Depts of the State Govt like Public Works, Irrigation & Flood Control, Public Health Engineering Dept, Minor Irrigation, Electricity, Finance, Planning and Education have expressed apprehension that if the current financial trend continues, Manipur may plunge into a financial crisis within the next 10 years.

On condition of anonymity, the officials disclosed that in the light of limited resources of the State, the State Government has been relying on the Centre for most of its non-plan fund. Some years back, the gap in the non-plan expenditure used to be met from the annual plan amount provided by the Planning Commission. But over the last couple of years, the Government of India has imposed restrictions on transferring the plan amount to non-plan activities.

The annual plan amount provided by the Government of India is supposed to be utilised in such a way to increase the resources of the State. But in Manipur, the developmental programmes taken up by many of the important departments are left wanting in many ways.

While the roads constructed by the Public Works Department do not last even for a year, the schemes taken up by the Minor Irrigation and Public Health Engineering Departments fail within one to two years of commissioning. Moreover, while there are irregularities in the developmental programmes implemented by the Irrigation & Flood Control Dept, the Power Department has not been able to collect taxes in terms of crores of rupees from the consumers apart from failing to fully implement any Centrally sponsored schemes.

There is also a lot of financial irregularities in the dealing of the Finance Department and the Education Department has not been able to live up to the expectation of human resource development in tune with the fund provided, the officials pointed out.

As the developmental activities of these departments are not proportionate to the fund provided, the Ministry of Finance, Government of India has been summoning the officials of the departments for explanation and clarification every now and then. Currently, the officials of the Public Works Department have been summoned by the Finance Ministry to explain the status of the fund provided for development of roads and bridges in Manipur.

With suspicion over disparity between the fund sanctioned and the works executed on the ground, officials of the Finance Ministry  have also started investigating the matter. If there is disparity between the fund provided and the work executed, then things will be taken to its logical conclusion, the officials added.

With regard to delay in releasing the development fund of Manipur by the Government of India, the officials disclosed that the Government of India itself is under financial constraints. Despite repeated claim over financial stability, the Government has been taking large amount of loan from  financial institutions like World Bank, Asian Development Bank, etc. Taking this into consideration, the Government of India has started monitoring utilisation of fund provided to the States very closely.

Although Manipur may be receiving more fund during the time of UPA Govt than during the earlier BJP-led NDA Government, there is no guarantee that the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh led UPA Government will come back to power for innings number 3.

This is the right time for the State Govt to take up necessary measures for mobilising its resources while there is time. Otherwise, a State like Manipur whose financial position depends on the salary drawn by the employees would be very bleak, the officials pointed out.