MP cries for help
Economic activities have been affected in the country due to the lockdown and Madhya Pradesh is no exception to this. If sources are to be believed, the Bharatiya Janata Party government has dashed off a letter to the Centre for financial help. The state has requested the Centre to “honour the devolution amount promised in the Budget”. Chouhan has also requested 2 per cent of gross state domestic product as additional borrowing to cover for the lack of resources. The previous government, run by the Congress, had blamed the Centre for reducing its share in central taxes by one percentage point. This forced the government to impose a 50 per cent ceiling on expenditures for February and March but it collapsed on March 20.
Rescued by liquor
Uttar Pradesh earns more than Rs 1 trillion in tax and excise revenue annually. However, owing to the protracted lockdown, receipts from state goods and services tax and excise totalled a paltry Rs 1,500 crore against nearly Rs 15,000 crore worth of payment of salaries and pensions due in April 2020 alone. Now with liquor shops allowed to open under lockdown 3.0, the UP government expects to recoup at least part of its average excise mop-up of nearly Rs 100 crore daily till the time the restrictions are removed and commercial activities come back on track.
Waste not, want not
The Rajya Sabha is on an austerity drive. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday held his first meeting with senior officials of the secretariat since the nationwide lockdown came into force on March 25. He was told that the secretariat had estimated an annual saving of Rs 60 crore against the annual budget of Rs 423 crore for 2020-21, and that a total saving of Rs 80 crore is being targeted as the financial year progressed. Measures to that end include deferring purchase of vehicles, keeping on hold international travel and training of officials, reduced study visits by committees, prioritisation of publications, putting on hold award of fellowships and internships under the Rajya Sabha Research Scheme, not undertaking fresh recruitment, increased use of e-office to save on stationery etc.