Ahead of budget, minister paints dull image of finances

Ahead of budget, minister paints dull image of finances

CT Ravi

Even as Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa prepares for the 2020-21 Budget, his Cabinet colleague C T Ravi on Tuesday spilled the beans on the state’s fiscal situation, saying the Kannada & Culture department he heads was asked to cut spending by 30%. 

“The Finance department has asked us to cut expenditure by 30% while preparing our budget,” Ravi told reporters. He holds the Kannada and Culture portfolio.

“We have an outlay of about Rs 150 crore, which isn’t enough. We’re asking for Rs 200 crore in the upcoming Budget,” he added. 

Apparently, all departments have been asked to prune expenditure. Ravi attributed this to the state not being able to mop up enough taxes, shrinking devolution from the Centre, delay in Central funds and the August 2019 floods.

“But our department’s spend is among the lowest,” Ravi said, adding that he will raise the issue with the CM during the pre-budget meetings next week. The CM is slated to present the 2020-21 Budget on March 5. 

Ravi said various cultural organisations across the state were under financial distress as the government has put their grants on hold.

“This was a decision taken when D K Shivakumar was the minister (under the coalition government) because some trusts weren’t functioning and that some of them existed only on letterheads. We’re thinking of doing a social audit and giving grants based on the works the trusts have done,” Ravi said.

“Various foundations and trusts have met me. They say the grants we give them isn’t enough to sweep the floor, let alone carry out cultural events,” he added.

The Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Kannada has been allotted a 3-acre space in Vijayashree Layout in Mysuru, Ravi said. At present, the facility functions out of a small building and under the Central Institute of Indian Languages.

“In 10 days, all necessary documents will be sent to the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Once the governing council for the Centre is appointed, further activities will be taken up,” Ravi said.

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