Centre puts Delhi budget on hold; Kejriwal writes to Modi
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, urging him "with folded hands" to pass the Delhi budget for 2023-24. The Delhi budget has reportedly been stalled because the Centre said it has been waiting for a response from Kejriwal's government for four days regarding concerns raised by Delhi's Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) VK Saxena about budgetary allocations.
Why does this story matter?
- Delhi's budget has become the latest flashpoint in the feud between the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party-led (AAP) Delhi government.
- While the Centre has blamed Kejriwal's administration for wasteful budgetary allocations, the AAP has accused the Centre of "hooliganism" over blocking the budget.
- The AAP has repeatedly accused the BJP of impeding work as part of its political plot.
Why are you angry with Delhiites: Kejriwal to Modi
In a letter to Modi, Kejriwal said, "It is the first time in the country's 75-year history that a state budget has been stopped. Why are you angry with the people of Delhi?" He added, "The people...urge you, with folded hands, to pass their Budget."
Capital expenditure of 20% insufficient for Delhi: Centre
According to central government sources, the draft budget has only a 20% allocation for capital expenditure, which is insufficient. Notably, Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Saxena flagged the government's spending on advertising, which has doubled in the last two years. Saxena has reportedly questioned Kejriwal's government about denying Ayushman Bharat and other central government schemes to Delhiites, and has been waiting for a reply for four days.
Ad expenditure saw 3,787% jump in 9 years
The L-G observed the Delhi government's Budget Estimate 2022-23 for advertising was Rs. 511.64 crore while the spending as per the Revised Estimate 2022-23 was Rs. 272.21 crore. In view of this, Saxena deemed the allocation for the Budget Estimate 2023-24 of Rs. 557.24 crore as "unjustifiable." Reportedly, in nine years, ad spending increased by 3,787%, from Rs. 15 crore to Rs. 568 crore.
Ad spending 40 times than actual project cost
L-G Saxena also highlighted that the cost of the Pusa bio-decomposer project was Rs. 41.62 lakh while the expenditure for advertising it was Rs. 16.94 crore. In view of the fiscal interest of Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asked the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to resubmit the budget after addressing the concerns raised by the L-G.
BJP indulging in 'gundagardi': Kejriwal
MHA is lying: Delhi finance minister
Meanwhile, the Delhi government refuted the Centre's claims, saying that the allocation for advertising was the same as last year. Delhi's Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot said, "The MHA is lying. The total budget of Delhi is Rs. 78,800 crore. Out of this, Rs. 22,000 crore are for infrastructure, while only Rs. 550 crore will be spent on advertisement (sic)."