Amaravati March 29:
The YCP Government has utterly failed in introducing budget from its formation, lambasted the TDP senior leader and Politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu in a statement on Monday, reacting to the passing of Ordinance by skipping the Budget Session.
On Sunday, the YCP government passed a vote-on-account budget that authorizes Rs. 70,983 crores for the first three months of FY 2021-22. Passing an ordinance instead of a full budget during a mandatory legislature budget session is not an ordinary practice.
All of the government’s revenues and loans are kept in the Consolidated Fund of the State. The Constitution states that no money from that Fund may be withdrawn unless an appropriation is undertaken. However, appropriation may take longer in which case a vote-on-account is passed, so that in the short-term the government is able to spend a stipulated amount. Typically, there is no discussion on vote-on-account and is treated as a formality, which the YCP government seems to be taking advantage of. The government has, however, stated that budget meetings could not take place due to gram panchayat and urban local body elections and upcoming Tirupati by-elections as the reason behind not conducting the mandatory budget session.
The YCP government has not released a full budget in the Assembly this or the previous year. Previous year, citing COVID-19 as the reason for the ordinance, the government passed the budget in June 2020. In 2019, the TDP had introduced a similar vote-on-account budget. Although, considering it was an election year, it is considered proper that any government not bring new policies that may not be agreeable to the new government post-elections. The YSRCP government has no such credible reasons, only excuses. States including Kerala, Karnataka, and Telangana released budgets for 2020 in February and March whereas Andhra Pradesh presented its three months later. Similarly, so far 14 states have released their budgets, while Andhra Pradesh will have to wait until June 2021. After April 1st the YCP government will not be able to spend any money from the Fund without approvals. Hence, the vote-on-account becomes vital for the government’s day-to-day expenditures in the new financial year.
Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan authorized the state government to withdraw Rs. 70,983 crores from the Consolidated Fund of the State of Andhra Pradesh for the financial year starting from April 1st, 2021. The ordinance details revenue expenditure and capital expenditure required for administrative purposes and welfare schemes of the government. However, the major contention with vote-on-account budgets is that it does not contain data on revenue, public debt, fiscal deficit, sector-wise contribution to state domestic product, and other budgetary figures. The vote-on-account does not detail any public spending numbers from the previous year.
In the month of February alone, the borrowings of the state rose by more than Rs. 5,000 crores, according to the latest CAG report. Total debt in the current financial year is just shy of Rs. 80,000 crores. According to the same report, the fiscal deficit has reached Rs. 79,192 crores, 164% higher than the budgeted amount for the full FY 2020-21 with one month to spare. As borrowings of the government increase, more is spent on non-revenue generating expenses such as interest payments. Meanwhile, taxes and prices in the state are adding to the burden on the people. The cumulative income to the government from taxes in the last 11 months is Rs. 68,821 crore, with Rs. 7,573 crores coming in during February.