Sunday, July 14, 2024

Wrong priorities

Nagaland is reportedly yet again in financial dire straits with the state unable to pay salaries to its employees. As reported in this paper on January 6 last, the state government has directed senior treasury officers, treasury officers and sub treasury officers to withhold payments and allowances till further orders. This is the second consecutive month that the government is delaying in relapsing salaries to its employees, as in December last year salaries of government employees were released only on the eve of Christmas. The reason given by the government for the delay in releasing salaries to its employees is “due to the process of up to date reconciliation of expenditure”, but nobody is buying this excuse. As reported in this paper, some government officials had even revealed that the state government’s coffer do not have enough money to pay its employees. We know that our state is poor and totally dependent on the Centre not only for the development works and its social sector but also to meet its routine administrative expenditure. And while we are facing a grave fiscal crisis, it is ironic that those at the helm are going on spending lavishly to lead a luxurious life and for royal style living. Today the state is not in a position to disburse salaries to its employees on time with its treasuries running dry. The development works are suffering due to failure of the government in releasing funds allocated for different sectors in time. The contractors and suppliers have not been paid their dues. In several other cases too, bills have not been cleared for want of funds. The social sector like education, healthcare, sanitation and environment is suffering due to inadequate allocations and adding to it is the delay in disbursement of sanctioned allocations. The poor condition of roads, frequent shutdowns and disruptions in power supply, acute shortage of drinking water, etc., betray a total state of neglect on the part of the rulers. Tragically, unmindful of such pitiable situation, the rulers of this poor state with poor people are spending lavishly thus putting additional strain on the state’s limited resources. The salaries at the top echelons of the bureaucracy are being raised frequently while the low-paid employees agitating for reasonable wages are ignored and even action taken for daring to raise their voice. The salaries, perks and other benefits for the public men, both the ministers and the legislators, are raised without taking into account the neglected needs of the common masses and the requirements of development works or the social sector. The unproductive and wasteful expenditure is galloping year after year with the ruling elite and the richer sections getting extra care while the people at large continue to suffer. The poor state has an army of ministers and others enjoying ministerial rank, salaries and privileges. These include advisors, a number of chairmen of a number of superfluous boards and all this simply to provide lucrative jobs to the defeated and disgruntled politicians. The poor state is having several superficial institutions, which do not serve any purpose except adding to the financial burden on the poor state. The funds meant for development works and social sector are being diverted to different unproductive channels. The state is maintaining a fleet of luxury and other cars, which are being misused recklessly for personal, political or pleasure trips of the VIPs costing the exchequer several crores annually. Huge amount is being spent on constructing palatial houses for lawmakers and bureaucrats or on their renovation and furnishing to ensure their royal style living. The number of guesthouses is multiplying to look after the needs of visiting politicians and bureaucrats or the VVIPs within the state. The poor state is spending crores in organizing different festivals as well as sponsoring beauty shows and concerts, while the people have been denied playgrounds and sports infrastructure, with schools without teachers, laboratories, toilets and even drinking water. A clear case of wrong priorities, no! Yes, there are several such happenings in this poor state, which hardly serve any purpose but cost the state huge amount every year.