Sunday, June 12

Prodigious footnotes of ‘austere’ Shahbaz Sharif

Despite loud pronouncements of running the province by putting in place strict austere measure sans any useless expenditures, in the on-going fiscal year, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat has spent Rs 324.647 million, which is so far the highest of any chief executive of the province.
Year 2008-09 was the first fiscal outlay presented by the then PPP-N coalition government, and that year, Rs 243.606m were spent by the CM’s Secretariat. In order to go public about decreased expenses, in 2009-10, the budget estimate was announced to be Rs 165.323m, but the govt was made to revise it to Rs 292.526m because of extra spending by CM’s Secretariat. Better sense prevailed for the last fiscal year when the budget estimate was figured at Rs 266.419m, but now the expenses were made to the tune of Rs 324.647m.
Now again, while delivering the budget speech when Kamran Michael asserted that the budget allocation for CM’s secretariat has been reduced by about 25 per cent. “The CM Punjab has decided to initiate simplicity and saving steps from his own secretariat. That is why for the current fiscal year, in comparison the reviewed amount has been reduced by one-fourth,” asserted the incumbent finance minister. However, he did not mention the figure, which is actually the same for year 2010-11 – Rs 266.419m – but his CM spent Rs 58.228m more than the allocated amount.
In the same way, the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team has spent Rs 10m more than the allocated amount of Rs 40.902m in the on-going fiscal year.
On the other, the Governor’s House is also not keeping itself within the allocated budget though less comparison can be drawn between the two Secretariats, headed by two adversary political parties.
In 2009-10 budget, it spent Rs 137.763m, while in fiscal outlay 2010-11 Rs 133.160m were allocated, but its total spending was Rs 186.512m. For the next budget, the estimate is Rs 160.190m, but certainly it will increase as well keeping in mind the track-record.
The Governor’s House – as one head – spent Rs 14.361m in 2009-10, while next year, against an allocation of Rs 14.367m, it spent Rs 14.712m. However, for the next year, Rs 14.367m have been estimated. As far as the Governor’s Secretariat is concerned, Rs 48.354 were spent in 2009-10, while it used Rs 71.749m against an estimated amount of Rs 49.812m in year 2010-11. For the next budget, an allocation of Rs 64.857m has been made.
In 2009, the staff and household of the Governor’s House had spent Rs 75.048m. Next year, against an estimated amount of Rs 68.981m, but it reached a figure of Rs 100.051m. For the next fiscal year, an amount of Rs 80.966m has been allocated.
“Inevitably, these prodigious footnotes are in blatant contradiction to the parable of embroidered slogans about austerity. Like the wide margins a publisher uses to eke out a skimpy text, the political bosses are making a novel of stupendous spending for future dispensations, which will certainly be bigger than what it is now and it will be certainly at the expense of the poor,” sarcastically observed PML-Q legislator Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari.

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