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Centre Stops Delhi Budget, Seeks Explanation On Rs 550 Cr Ad Spending

The Centre postponed the presentation of the Delhi Budget, which was planned for Tuesday, while CM Arvind Kejriwal accused the central government of “gundagardi”

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Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed on Monday that the Centre had placed the Delhi government's budget on hold a day before it was scheduled to be presented in the Assembly.

According to the people with knowledge of developments in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Centre has requested clarification on the Aam Aadmi Party government's expenditure on advertisements before approving the presentation of the Budget.

The Aam Aadmi Party shared a video of Arvind Kejriwal speaking on a TV show on Monday. The chief minister is heard stating that the Delhi Budget will not be presented on Tuesday.

Arvind Kejriwal accused the federal government of “gundagardi,” claiming that for the first time in the country's history, a government's budget was halted.

Meanwhile, in reaction to Arvind Kejriwal's statement, the Union Home Ministry stated that it has asked the Delhi Government for clarification on why the expenditure on advertisements exceeds that on infrastructure, according to government sources.

According to sources, on 17 March, the MHA requested clarification from the Delhi government on a number of problems, including the budget and administrative matters. According to them, the MHA has not gotten any clarification on the issues raised with the Delhi government in the last four days.

The approval for the Budget will be pending before the MHA until the Delhi government provides clarification, according to home ministry officials.

Delhi Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot said that the concerns expressed by the Union home ministry were “irrelevant,” adding that it was done to “scuttle the Delhi government's budget next year.”

Kailash Gahlot, tracing the event's timeline, stated that the budget was sent for MHA approval on 10 March 2023, as per the standard procedure.

“It is now learned that the MHA expressed some concerns on the Delhi government’s budget and refused to give it approval through a letter sent to the Chief Secretary on 17 March 2023. For mysterious reasons, the Chief Secretary of Delhi kept the letter hidden for 3 days. I learned about the letter only at 2 pm today. The file with MHA’s letter was put up to me officially only at 6 pm today i.e. just the day before the budget was to be presented in Delhi Assembly,” Kailash Gahlot said on Monday.

He added that they had responded to MHA’s concerns and submitted the file back to Delhi’s LG, after CM’s approval, at 9 pm today (20 March 2023).

“The role of the Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary of Delhi in delaying Delhi’s budget ought to be investigated,” Kailash Gahlot said.

He added, “It is also unfortunate that MHA is spreading falsehoods about the Delhi government’s budget. Nearly Rs 22,000 crores have been allocated for capital expenditure next year, whereas the allocation for advertisements is only Rs 550 crore, which is similar to that of last year. The concerns raised by MHA are irrelevant and seemingly done only to scuttle the budget for next year of Delhi government.”

Earlier on Monday, the Delhi finance minister presented the Outcome Budget of the city in the Assembly. The ongoing budget session of the Assembly is scheduled to conclude on 23 March.