The acute financial crisis through which the state is passing through at present, has been expected long back and not particularly after the imposition of the new booze ban by the government.
The adversity has pressurized the UDF government to borrow Rs 2500 crore from the public fund within one month for the expenditures including the monthly remunerations, pensions and the recent Onam festival allowances. Finance Minister KM Mani had warned the cabinet about the possible consequences of the liquor ban citing that it would adversely affect the economy. State’s already precarious finance situation would become extremely difficult for him once the revenue from the bars and liquor shops stop since people would find fault with the finance management by the Minister.
The government has not been able to initiate effective measures to tackle the economic crisis and according to the estimates the public debt of the state is 1, 17, 595.70 crore with 800 crore alone going into paying interests. The proposal for cutting down the additional posts and assigning the staff to the new slots accordingly has not been implemented. This becomes relevant as the temporary positions in the state at present come to 30,000. Questions have also been raised against Ministers maintaining a large number of personal staff even though there wasn’t enough work for them to do with the treasury bearing all the brunt. The government Chief Whip recently dismissed 20 out of his 30 personal staff following media reports. It is plainly cynical when the Prime Minister has allowed a staff-strength of only 15 to the ministers even at the centre. The state government spends 140 crore alone on the staff in five years in different avenues besides the retirement pensions. The unnecessary foreign trips, which come to around 37 in three years by the personal staff, should also be limited.
The revenue from the 36 Development Boards functioning in the state is also found to be much higher than that received from the consumers and the same applies for cooperates as well as different organizations. All blames are put on the recent closure of the bars initiated by the Chandy government to ensure a total liquor ban in the state. Pressure has been building up against the latest government move claiming that it would adversely affect the economy. The government on the other hand has been lethargic from the beginning; it has not banned the production, sale or consumption of liquor until now. People claim that the shutting down of the bars has pushed the government into a financial crisis when actually it had been there much before the imposition of liquor law. A complete prohibition is impossible in a state like Kerala where much of what people earn goes into the toddy shops and in the Beverage Corporations. The ever increasing queue outside the shops would only boost the revenue.
The state government, at present, should be following rigorous measures to tackle the financial crisis through effective economic discipline. Eliminating the blights that are already crippling the state like the corruption, extravagance and misuse of the policies and also rejuvenating public sector enterprises like the KSRTC would bring about relief at least to some extent, to the financially staggering state.