Karnataka stares at spending slowdown

With Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa burdened with the charge of some major departments — water resources, energy, agriculture, Bengaluru development, urban development, backward classes welfare and minorities welfare — officials fear that decision-making may be slow. (DH File Photo)

Karnataka is staring at a policy paralysis as three-fifths of the Budget promises remain on paper while several key departments in the B S Yediyurappa administration battle stunted expenditure this fiscal year. 

Till July, government departments have spent 23% of the total allocation for the financial year. While authorities say this is better than the 18% expenditure achieved in the corresponding period last year, departments such as industries, infrastructure development, public enterprises and women & child development are reeling with low spending, official data show. 

With Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa burdened with the charge of some major departments — water resources, energy, agriculture, Bengaluru development, urban development, backward classes welfare and minorities welfare — officials fear that decision-making may be slow. 

Sample this: The 2019-20 Budget presented by the previous H D Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD(S) coalition had 346 announcements, of which 202 have not been implemented yet. These include 112 announcements pertaining to departments that Yediyurappa has kept with himself. 

Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, who is reviewing the situation and is looking at ways to improve the government’s financial progress, pointed out that 2018 and 2019 were election years. “And then we had a change in government. All of that have contributed to this. So, let’s see,” Bhaskar told DH

Karnataka’s total allocation for the 2019-20 fiscal year is Rs 1,94,643 crore, and the highest spending achieved till date is on disaster management — 51%.  Out of Rs 3,558 crore earmarked as special development plan (SDP) grants, the state’s 19 administrative departments have spent only Rs 600 crore thus far — 16% — with eight of them clocking single-digit expenditure.  

The start of the 2019 fiscal year saw Karnataka face the heat of the Lok Sabha polls in April and May. The BJP’s victory formed the aftermath in June and the coalition government collapsed on July 23 after a three-week long drama.

“There were all those political developments because of which things slowed down. But now, ministers are reviewing their departments, things will pick up,” Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar told DH.

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