West Bengal govt tightens its belt amid lockdown

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Kolkata, April 4 (IANS) The West Bengal government has stayed new recruitments, reduced expenditure and put a bar on starting new schemes to meet the huge financial needs of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The debt-stressed state has asked officers to travel economy class, once air services resumes, and stopped all advances, except those related to the viral outbreak.
The Finance Department directive, to remain effective till June, has stopped all expenses, except those concerned with salary and pension, the government grants and allowances and coronavirus-related treatment.
All departments have been asked to return to the Finance Ministry the residual amounts with them for financial year 2019-20.
The powers of five works departments, including PWD, irrigation and small irrigation, to allocate work independently has been capped at Rs 1 crore as against Rs 10 crore.
The capping has been reduced to Rs 10 lakh for 45 other departments against the present ceiling of Rs 1 crore. The departments would have to take the Finance Ministry’s permission for making any expenses beyond the ceiling.
The directive ordered a temporary bar on all recruitment of staffers or on contractual basis and also construction work, besides purchase of cars, computers, furniture, television, air conditioners and water coolers. No department can take up any renovation work of buildings, and put a virtual stop on expenses on food, guest entertainment.
The IAS, IPS officers will not get any advance on house building, while the government employees can’t withdraw money from GPF except for medical treatment, education expenses of children and marriage.