Ministries brace for budget cuts up to 24%

Ministries brace for budget cuts up to 24% New Delhi: With the government in expenditure cutting mode, various ministries are bracing for reduction in their annual budgets for the year 2013-14 which could be even up to 24 percent of this fiscal.

While some ministries are reconciled to the anticipated budgetary cut by the Finance Ministry, a few others are cribbing about it.

According to indications to various ministries, the Finance Ministry would be slashing the annual budget of ministries in view of the poor financial health of the economy.

"The Finance Ministry and Planning Commission have said there will be a 24 percent budget cut for all ministries," a union minister said.

When contacted for his comment amid apprehensions of budget cut, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said it is "inevitable" and that his Ministry will have to make do with whatever it gets.

"Budget cut is inevitable given the grim fiscal position. We have to make do with what we get," he said.

Ramesh seemed to be reconciled even though media reports had suggested that he had written to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, requesting that there should be no cut in budget for his ministry.

Rural Development Ministry was allocated a budget of Rs 85,000 crore during the 2012-13 fiscal.

Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo refused to get into specifics but said "if such a huge cut" is done in the budget for a ministry like his, "then hardly anything will be left for it".

Tribal Affairs Ministry was sanctioned a budget of Rs 4,000 crore approximately for the current financial year.

Deo said there should not be any budget cut in the social sector ministries, keeping in mind the small size of their annual allocation.

"How much will you gain by cutting the budget of Tribal Affairs Ministry and others in social sector, whose entire allocation is not too big. This way the Ministries will not be able to meet their target of bridging the social gap," he added.

Deo has already written letters to Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia over this.

"I have written to Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia over this and I think on this area -social sector- they should not cut budget so massively," he said.

Women and Child Development Ministry is also bracing for the cut, with a senior official saying the Finance Ministry has already told them to spend only 33 percent of the revised estimate for the last quarter of the current financial year.

The Defence Ministry also suffered a cut of Rs 12,000 crore in the revised budget of Rs 1.93 lakh crore in the current fiscal. Besides, its request for additional Rs 40,000 crore in the current fiscal was also turned down by the Finance Ministry.

PTI