Mumbai News

To cut costs, Maharashtra to let go 320 consultants – Times of India

MUMBAI: The state government will not renew the services of at least 300-320 consultants as part of its cost-saving measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Only around 80-100 consultants of a total of 400 working in various departments of the state government are likely to be retained.
Last week, the state finance department issued a Government Resolution directing every department to appoint not more than two consultants as part of cost control measures. Sources said the government has been working with only 10-15% of its workforce on account of restrictions due to the pandemic.
“Ever since the lockdown began, we are unable to utilise the services of our own employees. The services of consultants too are not being utilised. The government has decided that departments must first utilise their workforce before asking for consultants,” sources said.
‘Many consultants are being paid more than state chief secretary’
Any department seeking to hire more than two consultants will require permission from the finance department to do so and will have to provide an explanation for it, said officials. The dropping of 300 consultants is estimated to save the state Rs 60 crore annually. “It gives the government an opportunity to clean up the system and hire consultants only for the purpose required,” a source said.
Consultants hired from firms such as Grant Thornton, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Cooper, Wipro and Ernst & Young were paid honorariums ranging from Rs 2 lakh up to Rs 3.5 lakh per month, excluding taxes and out-of-pocket expenses. “Many of them are being paid more than the chief secretary,” said a source. The consultants are appointed for a fourmonth period, and their contract renewed every four months. The lockdown has put a strain on the economy and on government finances. Departments have already been directed to prioritise development works and cancel projects for which work orders have not been issued. And in case work orders have been issued, they have been told to take up only those that are urgently required.
There are 400 consultants working for the government on various projects. The tribal welfare, irrigation, information technology, public works, women and child welfare, and skill development are some departments that have hired consultants. “The government does not have certain skill sets such as those for financial analysis, preparing detailed project reports, etc. But it has been found that consultants appointed to conceptualise projects are now running these projects. The pandemic has provided an opportunity to do an audit,” said a source.