Editorial: Austerity on papers alone

Srinagar: Just six weeks back the government rolled out slew of measures to promote fiscal discipline in the administration to cut down on expenditure. The move came to ensure utmost economy in organizing conference, seminars, workshop by the Government Departments. The officials were told to organize only such conferences, seminars, workshops etc which are absolutely essential.

The government also banned holding of meetings and conferences at private hotels and said that government buildings or premises would be instead utilized for the same. Similarly, the purchase of new vehicles to meet the operational requirement was permitted but only against condemnation as a replacement measure and with prior concurrence of the Finance Department.

The officials were also advised to avoid travel by business class and they were told to avail economy class travel so as to save the government from spending more on the travel expenses of the officials.

But the moot question is that, has this advisory travelled to the bottom and have the ministers and the officials bothered to adhere to it. We cannot escape the fact that the ruling class is now bogged with the obsession of living a luxurious life style. Can they afford the implementation of austerity measures that too at a level which is going to hit them directly and hard.

What prompted the State Government to initiate the idea of austerity and issuing an advisory to all departments detailing what measures should be taken to encourage and enforce austerity among the Government functionaries is still not clear.

The state has over the years created a habit among its officials to encourage such activities which do not really contribute to the economic or intellectual growth of the State and its people, yet those activities continue without assessing whether these can be avoided or not.

As of now various departments deem it fit to organize exhibitions, conferences, seminars, symposia, tours and various activities under very attractive nomenclature and obtain sanction for huge expenditures on these items.

The expenditure on these events is not monitored and no action is taken against the officials who are found violating the norms. Besides, the travel expenses of the officials that too has been asked to bring to a lower level is another concern as the officials least care about the same.

The fault however, lies with the government as the circulars and other orders issued for ensuring austerity at the ground level are not implemented in toto. For this the government should have worked out a plan of ensuring strict adherence to the austerity measures.

The officials should have been asked to submit weekly reports by all the field offices as to what action they have taken to ensure that the austerity measures are implemented.

However, no such activity has been taken in hand making the whole exercise another mockery. This attitude should have been avoided at all costs to ensure some sort of implementation of the governments order.




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