09 May 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Modi wants officers to go on spending spree

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Modi wants officers to go on spending spree With the spectre of elections looming large over Gujarat, Narendra Modi has revved his administration into overdrive. In what may become the narrative of the Gujarat government until December, Modi has raised the cap on non-approved expenditure from Rs 10 crores to a staggering Rs 120 crores, hoping thus to speed up building of roads, bridges, school buildings etc., and have something to show to the electorate. The shrewd politician that he is, Modi knows only too well that his development agenda cannot succeed without babus on his side. Known for his political aggression and no-nonsense approach to governance, Modi had denounced the state’s babus during a chintan shibir held in February this year, where he said that they were not worth the salaries they were drawing. At the time, sources say, the targets of his ire were culture secretary Varun Maira and panchayat secretary Varesh Sinha. However, the tribesmen were particularly resentful of Modi criticising the much-respected urban development secretary, S.R. Rao, whose handling of the Surat floods relief campaign was, after all, lauded by all. Now Modi is trying to mollify his disgruntled babus by loosening the purse strings and pushing them all quickly to spend more. Another reason behind the present beneficence, sources say, is that last year the state government managed to spend only 65 per cent of its budget. Now Modi has instructed the babus to spend the entire budget of Rs 15,506 crores by September-end. The babus are now faced with the peculiar problem of plenty; plenty of funds but not enough time to utilise them properly. They are on a sanctioning spree, allocating funds hither and thither, to ensure they meet their “target” and escape censure at the next chintan shibir, being held in July. Meantime, sources add, tongue-in-cheek, the only tribe smiling in Modi’s Gujarat is that of the civil contractors intent on making hay.

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