There is no let-up in covid-19 infections. Rather there is a steep rise in the number of cases as well as the number of people succumbing to the virus in Jammu and Kashmir. So far almost 12000 people have been infected while more than 220 have died. The situation has led to the re-imposing of the lockdown in the many parts of J&K including Srinagar where 2345 people have been infected and 55 people have died, highest in both counts across 20 districts.
Amid this crisis, most of the government departments have been asked to cut their quarter expenditures.
While there is no let-up in the suffering due to covid-19, one believes that extra funds are needed to fight it. The fact remains that the revenues realization of the Government is far from satisfactory and the restrictions on expenditure shall continue till the end of the third quarter of the year ending September 2020, as per the latest order by the administration.
Recently, the Finance Department ordered that all departments restrict overall expenditure within 40 percent of budgeted estimates of 2020-21. Certain areas have been exempted from the restrictions which comprise payment of wages, stipend, scholarships, compensation, and beneficiary oriented schemes. Public oriented schemes initiated by Public Works (R&B), Rural Development, Power Development, and Jal Shakti Departments are also exempted. Nonsalary heads of Revenue Budget are restricted up to 20 percent for the same quarter.
The challenges posed by covid-19 pandemic are mounting on a continuous basis. More and more resources are needed to be reserved to fight it and provide healthcare facilities. The expenditure cut seems to be in the right earnest.
The government must also remain alive to the needs of people especially to weaker sections. It cannot take the eye of the needs of the people, especially whose livelihood has been threatened.
Many surveys across the globe show that employers are set to cut jobs to cope with faltering demand and such a scenario should be considered by the government.
While the need for tightening expenditures seems in the right directions, the government should start augmenting health infrastructure as pandemic continues its devastating effects on all spheres of life.