ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Why Do the States Not Spend?

This paper investigates the unusual phenomenon of state governments currently maintaining large cash balances even as many important sectors call for substantial outlays. Is it a governance issue, as the union finance ministry makes it out to be, or is it something more fundamental affecting the fiscal powers of state governments? We argue that the constraint on expenditure is imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budgetary Management Acts passed by the centre and most state governments; the cash surplus phenomenon is a perverse outcome of such legislation. This essay also investigates the price paid by Kerala, an outlier where receipts do not keep pace with expenditure growth, because of the mechanical constraints imposed by the fiscal responsibility legislation.

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