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The cash-strapped Kerala is heading for a tough time as it needs to pay out more than Rs 7,000 crore around the festival season, said a top Finance Ministry official here.

The cash-strapped Kerala is heading for a tough time as it needs to pay out more than Rs 7,000 crore around the festival season, said a top Finance Ministry official in Thiruvananthpuram.

The Onam festival is celebrated across the communities here and employees of the state government and private sector get either a bonus or a festival advance for celebrations.

However, this time the state government employees have not received any advance payment of salary or festival bonus.

This time Onam, celebrated according to the Hindu lunar almanac, falls in the second week of September.

The ministry official told IANS that salaries, bonus, pensions and pension arrears will have to be paid out and hence it is a tough task for the state government.

“We have already issued bonds worth Rs 2,000 crore, which is a routine affair when there is a cash crunch and the Reserve Bank of India has given the nod,” said the official.

He said the rest would be made up when various welfare fund boards take loans.

“This is also a common practice and the loans and the interest would be paid by the state government. The rest would come by way of the state’s own resources,” said the official.

He pointed out one of the reasons behind the figure to be so high is that there are pension arrears from social schemes like agriculture, old age, widows and many others to be paid out to about 37 lakh former employees and other persons.

“The previous Congress-led UDF government had left behind a few months in arrears in pensions, besides from June the new Pinarayi Vijayan government raised all pensions to a minimum of Rs 1,000 per month,” added the official.