Health, education budgets to suffer

The Asian Age.  | sanjay kaw

Metros, Delhi

Allocation for depts unlikely to see increase in wake of sharp drop in tax collections.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain

New Delhi: The budgetary allocation for health and education sectors for 2017-18 fiscal is unlikely to see further increase as the Delhi government is grappling hard to keep its financial health in order in wake of sharp drop in its tax collections.

The government, however, is planning to extend current subsidies in the power and water sectors for the next fiscal year. What’s alarming is the fact that several departments that were unable to utilise their funds in projects, including installation of CCTVs, repairing and maintenance of roads and developmental works to be carried out through mohalla sabhas, have returned the remaining funds to the finance wing.

At a recent meeting, principal secretary (finance) S.N. Sahay reportedly told health minister Satyendra Jain that his department was in no position to increase further budgetary allocation to the health sector as the government’s tax collections have shown a steep decline this year. Mr Jain had earlier said that the government’s top priority was to provide quality health service to citizens for which he needed funds. However, he was told that increase in funds for the health sector would affect funding to other projects.

The government had allocated about Rs 5,260 crore and Rs 10,690 crore to health and education sectors, respectively, for the current fiscal, second time that the government gave top priority to these sectors.

While the administration was able to open over 100-odd mohalla clinics and about 8,000 rooms in the government-run schools, it was not able to meet its tax targets in various sectors. The government had first estimated to raise about Rs 24,000 crore through VAT collection. Later, it revised the collection target to Rs 22,000 crore, though it has been able to raise only about Rs 17,700 through VAT till January.

Sources said that various departments have returned the unutilised funds — to the finance department — allocated to them. The urban development department, which was to spent Rs 200 crore for installation of CCTV cameras, has returned the money. Even the PWD, which was spent about Rs 100 crore on repair and maintenance of roads, has returned funds. About Rs 350crore earmarked for carrying out works through mohalla sabhas has been returned.

Asked why the mohalla sabhas were unable to spent money on the development works of their respective areas, a senior bureaucrat said: “These sabhas can utilise the funds only after the Parliament amends some sections of the existing Delhi Municipal Act.” “One can not utilise even a single paise unless it is clearly defined in the Act under which head it can be utilised.”