Aizawl: Amid rising COVID-19 cases coupled with swine fever outbreak and influx crisis, Mizoram is on the verge of facing a 2013-like situation as the state is reeling under a stiff financial crunch, officials said on Thursday.
The current financial crunch has been largely attributed to the plunge in post devolution revenue deficit grants, share of taxes and the Centre’s diktat to disburse all funds under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), the officials said.
Mizoram was in overdraft on more than four occasions in 2013 under the erstwhile Congress government.
The northeastern state has been registering a spike in COVID-19 cases for about a month and the state’s tally reached 2,32,225 on Thursday as 145 more people have tested positive for the infection in the last 24 hours.
The outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to ravage the state, killing more than 42,600 pigs and piglets since March last year. The tiny state is also currently housing over 30,000 refugees from Myanmar.
Owing to disbursement of funds worth around Rs 600 crore under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) from the state finance department to concerned departments recently, the state’s treasuries, though not officially closed, have stopped disbursing money, a senior official in the treasuries said.
He said that the Aizawl South Treasury, which disbursed the maximum amount of money on normal days, has stopped payment from Monday and the Aizawl North Treasury from July 21.
He said that payment of salaries to government employees might be delayed due to financial constraints. Another official hoped that salaries for Group C and D employees could be met from interest payment of state investment parked in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) even though salaries to other employees are delayed.
Contractual and provisional employees have not been paid for June till Thursday.
Earlier, state principal secretary for finance Vanlalchhuanga had told reporters that the state government would face serious fiscal problems following the Centre’s directive to the state governments to release all the funds under CSS to concerned departments.
He had said that the CSS funds in the past were usually parked in the state account with RBI and a part of them had been frequently loaned for covering shortage in revenue expenditure.
The Centre had directed all states to release all the CSS funds within 21 days of receipt.
Meanwhile, state taxation minister Lalchamliana has claimed that a drop in the state’s share of taxes and post devolution revenue deficit grants from the Centre triggered a financial crunch in the state.
Addressing a leadership training programme in Aizawl on Thursday, the minister said that Mizoram avails only 0.56 per cent (Rs.230 cr) of the total shares of taxes from the Centre in a fiscal year.
“We do not receive grants amounting to Rs. 2,600 crore that we should receive between April 2020 to 2022,” he said, adding that for these reasons the state is facing financial constraint.
He added that the 15th Finance Commission has earmarked only Rs. 6,544 crore as revenue (deficit) gap grant for the state for the period 2021-2025 against Rs. 21,183 crore during 2016-2020 released by the 14th Finance Commission.
Opposition parties Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and Congress have held Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who also holds the finance portfolio, responsible for the financial crunch owing to his alleged fiscal mismanagement.
Highly placed sources said that the state government has already availed special drawing facilities (special ways and means advances) besides ways and means advances.
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