Thursday, December 9, 2010

We cannot show charity at someone’s else expense!

That is the last words from former Finance Minister of Punjab. Some excerpts from his article in The Tribune:

  • Let me say it once again that I am totally against bad subsidies as well as unconscionable expenditure and there is no change in my position on this issue. This of course includes bad subsidies as well as unconscionable expenditure.

  • Newspaper reports in the past had shown how certain ministers and even some people who were not even elected, were spending crores of rupees on their personal petrol expenditure and passing their bills to the government. Likewise, in certain cases the reimbursement of medical bills is amounting to several hundred crores.

  • Even security bills, for instance. While I could understand the need for tight security for the Chief Minister and one or two top functionaries, I saw no merit in every member of the government travelling with an elaborate cavalcade of vehicles and security paraphernalia -- all at the cost of the common man’s taxes. Similarly, I rubbed a lot of people the wrong way when I went after persistent tax defaulters.

  • During my tenure as the finance minister, I never recovered any travel expenditure I made. This was a personal choice and I did not expect my Cabinet colleagues to emulate it. But certainly, I felt that they could have spared the state an expenditure of several crores that came from flimsy foreign trips, unjustified security entourages, continuous upgradation of their official vehicles -- all at the cost of the exchequer.

  • ..I would just say- get rid of wasteful subsidies and unjustified expenditure by members of the government. Have as many subsidies as you want, but make sure they are required and most importantly ensure that there is sufficient resource mobilisation. We should have our money to provide subsidies. We cannot show charity at someone’s else expense!

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