Parrikar's financial circus

| 30 October 2000 17:42 IST

Walking on a tight rope with acute fund crunch and jumbo cabinet, Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar has begun a financial circus to reduce wasteful expenditure in the tourist state, which is known for lavish administrative lifestyle.

Goa's newly sworn in first BJP ministry of 14, which includes eight former Congressmen, may not be very happy after knowing that Parrikar means business and it is not an usual announcement of austerity measures which any CM makes after taking over.

No Baleno cars to move around, no foreign junkets to attract tourists or industries, no flying in the air in executive class, no unlimited use of official mobile phones. The list of 'Dos and Don'ts' is perhaps pretty lengthy.

No wonder if the list is made a prime issue to topple this government very soon if Parrikar tighten the bolts of Goa's professional politicians, who consider that enjoying at the cost of the exchequer is their constitutional right.

"Within two days, I have saved not less than Rs 1.5 crore. You just wait and see how I streamline the administration", says Parrikar. To pose himself as a model case, the young IIT engineer-turned politician has started moving into a private car when he goes on private visits.

In fact his own friends and relatives were shocked when Parrikar alighted from a private car in the temple city of Ponda on the second day of getting sworn in last week. He now moves in Esteem with only one pilot jeep, handing over his predecessor's cute black Lancer to the protocol department.

"Even all the costly gifts he receives are deposited in the public treasury", discloses his personal staff. He has even appealed to his cabinet colleagues to scrap at least one unimportant staff from their office.

"We do not save much out of it, may be hardly around Rs 40 lakh annually. But it indicates our feelings", says Parrikar. Knowing fully what his cabinet comprises of, he says that he will have a check on corruption, admitting that it is not possible to weed it out fully.

But with every 30th Goan being a government servant here, pampering the all-powerful state servant has pushed the economy into a serious debt trap, thanks to the unanimous decision of all the politicians to fully implement the fifth pay commission recommendations at the cost of spending 45 per cent revenue merely on salaries.

Parrikar has however extended the term of the newly introduced VRS scheme by a fortnight, giving opportunity to quit those who are medically unwell, those running parallel private business of many kind by skipping work and all the known tainted officials.

"Let them leave and go, otherwise I will go after them", he says firmly. He has even introduced six-day week for all the gazetted officers, using Saturday only for clearing files and holding co-ordination meetings, as a step towards tuning up the administration.

This is yet another attempt by yet another chief minister, who is know for his management skills. But the challenge before him is not merely the political will but moulding the 'susegado' government servant, who lives as a king of the state.

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