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At last leg of its tenure, Govt showing interest in SFC recommendations

Discrimination in allocation of resources

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 2: After remaining in deep slumber for one and half year, the Government has shown some interest in the implementation of recommendations of the State Finance Commission, which was constituted with the objective of providing equitable treatment to all the regions and sub-regions of the State in the allocation of funds. However, in view of the lengthy exercise yet to be followed and the fact that Government has entered the last leg of its tenure it is unlikely that recommendations would become reality.
On the other side, questions are being raised over the validity of the recommendations made on the basis of exercise carried out more than four years back as during these years the development profile and other important factors of various areas across the State have undergone significant change.
The State Finance Commission came into being in 2007 to look into regional imbalance or discrimination in the allotment of funds with any region or sub-region of the State and suggest corrective measures for equitable development. Though the Commission had to accomplish the task to address the voices of discrimination within a period of one year yet it took more than three years to finalize its recommendations and the report was submitted to the Government in November 2010.
Thereafter, the Government kept the recommendations in the official files till March 2012 when the Planning and Development Department vide Government Order No.25 dated March 5, 2012 engaged S Mahajan, former Secretary, Planning and Development Department and G A Qureshi, former Director General, Economics and Statistics as Consultants for preparation of road map for implementation of the recommendations of the State Finance Commission and prepare report on district development profile and identify critical gaps in infrastructure in respective districts and suggest measures to address the developmental backwardness of districts besides suggesting the broader frame work for distribution of resources among various sectors.
In the month of May 2012, the Planning and Development Department again came up with order No.43-PD mentioning that the Consultants will submit reports within a period of six months instead of four months mentioned in the earlier order.
These Consultants carried out detailed exercise and submitted interim reports to the Planning and Development Department within the stipulated time-frame. However, during the past one and half year, the Government remained slept over the reports of Consultants instead of carrying out further necessary exercise on the same, sources said.
Now, Planning and Development Department has once again engaged the same experts in order to finalize their interim reports, which were submitted one and half year back, sources said, adding these Consultants have now been given two months time for finalizing and submitting their report.
“Why this step was not initiated during the past one and half year remains a million dollar question”, sources said, adding “keeping in view the lengthy process to be followed even after finalization of report by the Consultants the Government should have not wasted one and half years time and should have not allowed to matter to linger on till the last leg of its tenure if it was so serious about implementation of the State Finance Commission recommendations”.
About the exercise yet to be followed, sources said that following submission of report by the Consultants the Planning and Development Department will hold discussions at its own level followed by detailed examination by a committee headed by Chief Secretary. Thereafter, the report would be dealt with by the Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister and finally the same would be placed before the Cabinet for appropriate action.
Meanwhile, questions are being raised over the validity of the recommendations, which were made on the basis of exercise carried out more than four years back.
“The development profile of each and every area of the State has gone significant change during these years in every sector. Moreover, percentages of resources allocation too has increased and keeping in view these factors whether the recommendations of SFC hold any importance remains a million dollar question”, sources said.

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