Delhi's AAP govt gets more money than ever but can't spend it; tussles with L-G behind diluted budget utilisation

By Manpreet Singh

Mumbai: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi has been able to spend only 85 percent of the state budget, on average, over the last three financial years, as the tussle between the AAP government and Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal takes a toll on Delhi's Rs 6 lakh crore economy, an IndiaSpend analysis of data showed.

The previous Congress government in Delhi, led by Sheila Dikshit, had an average utilisation of 98 percent between 2008 and 2013. The spending slowdown and tussle come at a time when the Delhi state budget has increased 29.3 percent since 2013.

File image of Delhi L-G Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

File image of Delhi L-G Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

"The decisions of the L-G affect planned expenses," Nagender Sharma, advisor (media affairs) to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, told IndiaSpend. "Projects like 1,000 mohalla (neighbourhood) clinics and CCTV installations getting delayed do affect the budget expenditure."

The plan to install 140,000 CCTVs across Delhi at a cost of Rs 350 crore was delayed due to the tussle between the AAP government and the L-G, The Times of India reported on 6 May. Only 160 of the planned 1,000 mohalla clinics were operational at the end of December 2017, DNA reported on 24 April.

Since the AAP came to power in 2015, the L-G has rejected or delayed 32 proposals, according to a government report presented by finance minister Manish Sisodia to the Delhi Assembly on 4 April, 2018.

In turn, the L-G accused the state government of "deliberately" and "persistently" flouting the scheme of governance of the capital.

"It may be noted that this scheme of constitutional governance has been in existence in Delhi since 1993 and past governments have shared a harmonious relationship with the office of the L-G," Baijal wrote on 5 April.

"However, the present elected government has deliberately and persistently chosen to act in contravention of the scheme of governance of NCT of Delhi," he said.

Decisions taken by the Delhi state Assembly are reviewed by the L-G of Delhi, appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of the home ministry. The L-G has administrative powers under Article 239AA of the Constitution and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act,1991 (GNCTD Act).

The Constitution says the L-G's administration powers supersede Delhi government in matters of public order, police and land, reinforced with the GNCTD Act,1991.

AAP manifesto focus: Education, health, infra. Are they delivering on it?

The 2015 manifesto of AAP focused on three issues: Education, health and infrastructure. The budget presented on 25 June, 2015, for the year 2015-16, allocated 26 percent and 9.5 percent to education and health, respectively – one of the highest allocations for the education sector by any state in India.

On education, the utilisation rate was 62 percent in 2014-15 and 57 percent in 2015-16 but picked up pace to 79 percent in 2016-17.

On health, the utilisation rate ranged between 83 percent and 79 percent. Under the previous Congress government, the average utilisation rates were 100.5 percent and 79.6 percent in the education and health sectors, respectively.

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Part of the under-utilisation of the budget may be attributed to the overlapping jurisdictions of the Centre, the state and the three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCDs).

With different parties at the helm – the AAP in the state and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre and the three MCDs – frequent tussles are reported between the AAP and the BJP.

In a tweet on 5 June, Kejriwal accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Baijal of creating hurdles in Delhi's development.

"This (rejection or delaying of approval) seems to reflect that the non-substantive queries and clarifications are merely a means to delay, derail or scuttle policies of the elected government," Sisodia said on 4 April, while presenting the L-G Outcome report.

The author, an MSc student at the Symbiosis School of Economics, Pune, is an intern with IndiaSpend.


Updated Date: Jun 08, 2018 11:26 AM

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