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Telecom, power depts lag in capex


NEW DELHI: When finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman kicked off her consultations on capital expenditure (capex), one of the reasons for the telecom department and the power ministry to be summoned was the low spending so far this year. According to data released by the controller general of accounts, during the first half of the financial year, DoT had spent 12% of the allocated Rs 25,934 crore against 41% of the expenditure for all ministries put together. And, the power ministry managed to spend just 3% of the allocation. At the same time, several ministries — from railways to roads, urban development and defence — have managed to speed up their capital spending during April-September (see graphic). While there are other ministries that have lower capital spending compared to the fullyear allocation, DoT is among the poorer performers. In terms of numbers, the department of economic affairs has spent just 1% of Rs 56,479 crore for the year, but of this Rs 44,000 crore is money parked with it for provision to projects and programmes that show good progress and need additional funds. In fact, with the comfort of additional resources available with her, Sitharaman has been nudging ministries to speed up spending, promising that funds will not be an issue. Even the department of financial services, which is part of the finance ministry, has so far spent around 5% of the allocation but Rs 20,000 crore of the Rs 25,800 crore is meant for capital support for the new development financial institution, National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development. Among the other ministries lagging the overall run rate are power, information technology and micro, small & medium enterprises ministries and the department of Ganga rejuvenation. But these are ministries with smaller allocations, police is among those with higher budgets to be lagging in the first half, spending less than a quarter of the over Rs 9,700 crore meant for it, official data showed.


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