Kerala assembly presented White Paper

Kerala assembly presented White Paper on fiscal health

Thiruvananthapuram, June 30 (IANS) The Left Democratic Front government on Thursday presented in the Kerala assembly a White Paper on the state’s fiscal health, and vowed to put the state economy back on the rails through cost-cutting and tapping uncollected revenue.

“The state is facing an acute financial crisis. Our government is faced with the stark reality that there are no funds left for capital expenditure. However, the common man will not be affected. We will put back the state finances on the right track,” Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told the media after tabling the White Paper in the assembly.

“We have to pay out Rs 10,000 crore in the current year, including immediate and short-term liabilities. For the last three years, the state budgets did not touch reality either in terms of resources or with the actual expenditure incurred,” the minister said.

Isaac said the measures to be taken by the government to salvage the situation include strict control over non-plan revenue expenditure minus salaries, interest and pension (SIP), besides ensuring that these are moderated at reasonable and sustainable levels.

The state salaries, interest and pension (SIP) expenditure touched Rs 45,683 crore in 2016 compared with Rs 11,558 crore in 2005.

“We will never blame the previous government on the SIP or plan expenditure. We will gear up the tax machinery and ensure growth in tax collection is sustained at 20-25 per cent per annum for the next five years,” Isaac said.

“Our fiscal strategies will be unveiled in the state budget to be presented in July… we definitely have to adhere to the basic principles of fiscal consolidation,” the minister added.

Commenting on the government’s White Paper, former Finance Minister K.M. Mani said he is at a loss of words on whether to call it “a white or a black paper”.

“It is not a financial but a political document, blaming the previous (United Democratic Front) government,” Mani told reporters here.

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