Shabby state of state finance
In this column in one of the earlier issues we had talked about the financial crisis that Tripura has been facing. In less than six months in office, the BJP led government has almost emptied the state exchequer. The situation is so pathetic that most of the employees and the pensioners didn't get their dues on the 1st of this month. This is something unprecedented. In the last 25 years when Left Front was in government, employees and pensioners always got their salaries and pension on the first date of every month. The Left Front ensured this without taking any overdraft from RBI. This was the proof of financial discipline the earlier regime had maintained. But on August 28th morning, the state exchequer had only an amount of Rs 607 crores. The daily expense through different treasuries is Rs 25 crores, while the total monetary involvement for salaries and pensions is Rs 585 crores. So clearly on August 31st, the state was not in a position to pay salaries and pension. The government had to beg the RBI to manage the money. Let us put on record the fact that the outgoing government had left an amount of Rs 1,400 crores in the exchequer, the new government has received Rs 1,100 crores from centre, receipt from GST amounts to another Rs 200 crores. The big mouthed CM time and again says there is no crisis of fund. Naturally one is prompted to ask what is happening with this money? Why the situation is so miserable that the employees are denied withdrawal of any amount from their own GPF accounts by a verbal order? The workers of MNREGA are not getting wages for weeks. All the social pension schemes started by the previous government are suspended. The principal secretary (finance) has ordered all the department heads to deposit the interests earned from all the funds received from different central schemes to the state exchequer. All these go on, while the CM is using helicopter to visit blood donation camps within 15 kilometres from his residence and its alleged that more than a crore of rupees has been spent on decorating and refurnishing his bungalow.
No enhanced social pension now
One of the lucrative promises that the BJP had given before the election was enhancing the amount of social pension to Rs 2000. PM Modi himself in his four election rallies had promised to give all the beneficiaries enhanced social pension. But while the government is going to complete six months in office, leave alone increased pension, the beneficiaries are not getting even the amount they were getting before the assembly election. On September 2, in a state level meet of anganwadi workers and helpers, the hopes were again shattered and it raised apprehension. The CM came two hours after the scheduled time and announced any enhancement of social pension will have to wait till the scrutiny of existing beneficiaries is completed. From sources only known to him, he said 67,000 persons among the beneficiaries were those having fake ration cards. Another 20-30 thousand will be proved fake. All of them shall be removed from the list. Then only the actual list will be in place. After that, once the state is financially fit to pay, then only the enhanced pension will be given. This announcement from the CM is clearly an indicator of its intention to exclude almost one lakh people from the list of existing beneficiaries. What is worse, this will mean exclusion of almost the same amount of people from BPL category and exclusion from the ambit of National Food Security Act. If this is implemented the way CM wants, the dark days of hunger and poverty are bound to bounce back in Tripura again.
Forget regularisation, MDM workers are losing jobs
Like the anganwadi and other scheme workers Chhanda Kar, Anjali Saha and hundreds of mid day meal workers across the state had hoped that once the new government comes they all shall be regularised. But reality had something in store for them which they never imagined. Seven of them working in Belabar Higher Secondary School for the last 15 years have been sacked at the whims of local mandal committee leaders of the BJP. The headmaster was not in a position to assert his authority and followed the diktats in sacking them. Like them, more than 200 MDM workers all over the state have been sacked till date. The CITU affiliated Mid-day Meal Workers Union met the director of school education to seek justice for them. CITU had sought time from the education minister to raise the issue. But the minister, infamous for spreading rumours of child lifting and kidney trafficking gang which led to mob lynching of four innocents, could not give time to hear the problems of mid day meal workers till date.