Flying Rupees & Figures

With the end of another financial year round the corner and a new budget expected soon, it is only expected that people would want to know about the state of our finances and how our government has been managing public money. And because information on our State’s finances is usually kept top secret, it is not possible to throw light on such an issue. At best we can gauge from the few statements coming out in the print media issued by the government or opposition. It is usually the case that even if the government clarifies on certain charges, the full truth is never told or put to light. The latest clarification issued by the Additional Chief Secretary (Finance Commissioner) on the charges made by the Opposition Congress is not totally convincing. The point is this: whether it is a Congress or NPF government, it is becoming all too clear that our governments have done very poorly when it comes to managing public money. Governments in the past as well as in the present have incurred huge expenditure which is beyond what our State can afford and also not to forget the misuse. This is simply poor economics. And despite a huge package from the Centre (during the BJP led NDA government), the present government now into its second term has not been able to reorder the State finances. A good opportunity has gone wasted.
It now appears that we are desperate for another bailout package from the Centre. Reports in the Morung Express suggest that the NPF government is seeking a special funding pattern citing Article 371 (A) and the 16-point agreement. This is quite an irony given that certain elements within the present dispensation are known to have vilified the 16-point agreement especially in the run up to elections. And further if what the Opposition Congress is stating is true, the present government has a lot of answering to do when it comes to the State’s finances. One would have thought that the introduction of the Nagaland Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Bill 2005 by the present Chief Minister would have brought in some reform. However we have not learned our lessons. The need of the hour is transparency, stability and accountability in the use of government finances. To carry out expenditure reform requires greater political will in cutting down on wasteful spending and populist measures, which at present is not visible.
While every Chief Minister in Nagaland will admit in public that we are dependent on Central funds and that our resources are meager, yet there is no political will to actually bring about some substantial reform on the way we handle our resources better so that we can sustain ourselves. The peculiarity of our political class is to bemoan our economic status hoping that we will continue to receive child support from our elders in Delhi. We have been complaining for the last five to six decades on our resource constraints. And going at the present rate, even after hundred years we will have the convenient excuse to beg and bemoan. Those who come to power are simply not interested to build up our State. If we are to count the money coming from Delhi, surely our Nagaland ought to be shining. Our State is comparatively small and we should have been much better off if only our politics was, as we so often proudly claim to be, “Nagaland for Christ”. Every election, we speak of development and how to better the lives of our people. Development is more of applying cosmetics, on the surface at best and complete eyewash.