Thiruvananthapuram, May 12
With a total public debt of over Rs three lakh crore-mark, Kerala's state Finance department got a rude jolt when the Centre raised a series of questions on its proposal seeking clearance to take a loan of Rs 2,000 crore.
Sources said that borrowing was needed to disburse the salaries and pension of the state government employees for the month of May in the first week of June.
With dwindling revenues and the state having drawn a staggering Rs 28,000 crore from various sources with the clearance of the Centre to tide over the Covid pandemic stress and strain in the previous years, the fresh demand for another Rs 2,000 crore has not been sanctioned and instead numerous questions have been posed.
Only time will reveal whether the state government employees can get their pay cheque as usual in the first week of the next month. The biggest public sector — Kerala State Road Transport Corporation's 35,000 employees are yet to get their salaries for the month of April and none, including its Minister, Antony Raju has any clue of when the employees will be paid.
Raju was hopeful that once Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan returns from the US, the matter will be resolved. But a meeting between the two on Wednesday failed to resolve the issue as it has always been the state government which was pumping funds to the cash strapped Corporation and this time. However, this time the state government itself is facing financial constraints
Sources said that the KSRTC is trying to pledge a few of its bus depots. So far 52 depots have been pledged for over Rs 3,000 crore, and the sooner more are done, the faster its employees will get their salaries.
Incidentally, in the first week of the new fiscal year, the state's piquant financial position became very evident when the director of Treasuries was told that the ways and means limits have been reduced from Rs 1 crore to Rs 25 lakh with immediate effect. And if there needs to be any payments to be made above Rs 25 lakh, then special sanctions will have to come to effect the payment.
Incidentally, till April 25, the treasuries were allowed to pay bills up to Rs one crore.