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  Opinion   Columnists  04 Nov 2020  Dilip Cherian | Crunch time for babus preparing Budget 2021

Dilip Cherian | Crunch time for babus preparing Budget 2021

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Published : Nov 4, 2020, 3:47 pm IST
Updated : Nov 4, 2020, 3:47 pm IST

Sources say that the first meeting of the budget preparing exercise took place with officials of the department of financial services

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman before announcing the Budget in 2019.
 Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman before announcing the Budget in 2019.

The countdown to the annual Budget for 2021-22 has started amid the urgency to push economic growth badly mauled by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is already talk of a third stimulus soon, going by the recent utterances of the finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. The Budget-making babus led by finance secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey have their work cut out.

Sources say that the first meeting of the budget preparing exercise took place with officials of the department of financial services as well as MSME, housing, steel and power ministries in attendance. The almost one-month long exercise to finalize the Revised Estimate (RE) for 2020-21 and Budget Estimate for 2021-22 will conclude on November 12 after the expenditure secretary, T.V. Somanathan, completes discussions with other secretaries and financial advisors.

This year, however, due to Covid, the number of participants for the pre-budget meetings may be restricted to a maximum of 5 officers for each meeting from a ministry/department, not below the rank of director.

For the Modi sarkar, the next Budget will be crucial since it will have to deal with the impact of the pandemic on revenue collection, disinvestment, expenditure, export and food prices. The indications are gloomy with the IMF forecasting that the economy will shrink by 10.3 per cent. Even the Reserve Bank of India has similarly opined that it will shrink by 9.5 per cent. The Budget will have to address critical issues pertaining to growth contraction and subdued revenue collection due to the pandemic.

Maharashtra’s big IPS muddle

As many as 36 IPS officers in Maharashtra are awaiting new postings and the unprecedented delay has given the Opposition BJP a handle to criticise the state chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. Among the officers on the “wait” list are 15 SP-rank officers besides high-profile top cop Deven Bharti.

Mr Bharti, a 1994-batch officer has not been assigned a new posting but continues as ADG (Anti-Terrorism Squad) since he has not been relieved despite being transferred!

Sources say that this situation has created unease in the force, since the state government’s refusal to clear the air, has only led to more rumours. It is well-known by now that Mr Thackeray wasn’t too pleased with the transfer of cops effected by the Mumbai Police Commissioner in July when he reshuffled 10-DCP rank officers in consultation with the government. Later, the transfers were put on hold.

Clearly, there is uncertainty and perhaps sharp differences on the issue within the government, even as the wait grows longer. The government says the “exercise” will be completed soon, but that may be little relief to the cops forced to cool their heels waiting for a decision.

IAS vs others in Haryana

The tussle between the IAS and other services is a constant factor in any government. The resignation of Jagdeep Dhanda, president of the Haryana Civil Service Officers’ Association, has blown the lid off the resentment among a section of Haryana IAS officers. They feel that the Manohar Khattar government is allowing the “usurping” of IAS cadre posts by other services. Sources inform that Mr Dhanda resigned to express his resentment over the appointment of HCS officers in the state transport department.

This feeling has peaked after the latest round of transfers issued by the state government. While an IPS officer was posted as the principal secretary and another was given the charge of managing director of one of the two power utilities in the state, an IFS officer was also posted as the principal secretary. Further, the state government has posted DSPs and employment officers against the post of district transport officers (DTOs), causing heartburn among officers of the state civil services.

Apparently, after confabulations, a senior officer has been deputed to write to the chief minister on posting officers of other services against IAS cadre posts.

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Tags: annual budget, 2021-22 budget, coronavirus, nirmala sitharaman