JAMMU, Feb 9: The Government today set into motion a series of financial reforms to promote fiscal discipline in the State by announcing release of 50 per cent revenue and capital expenditure budget provision for upcoming financial year of 2017-18, at least four to five months ahead of schedule, and fixed May 15 as deadline for procurement and tendering process for all kind of works to give ample time to their execution in view of limited working season in some of the areas.
The Government also put a cap on expenditure during last quarter of the financial year from 2017-18 to 30 per cent of budget allocation and last month i.e. March to not more than 15 per cent. This has been done to avoid heavy rush of works and payments during last quarter of the financial year especially the last month.
Generally, 50 per cent of the budgetary allocations were released in the month of June or even in July. It took the Departments another couple of months to complete procurement and tendering process works and thereafter very little time was left for execution of works as some areas start receiving heavy snowfall and rains in the month of December.
A Government Order issued today by the Finance Department said 50 per cent revenue and capital expenditure of budget provision for 2017-18 would be released by the Finance and the Planning, Development and Monitoring Departments on February 10.
“The Administrative Departments would ensure that the budget is communicated to the Heads of Departments (HoDs) and executing agencies within the next 10 days i.e. February 20. In case this is not done, the budgetary provisions will be deemed to have been conveyed for taking further action,” it said.
The Government has directed the Administrative Departments, Heads of Departments and other executing agencies to immediately set in motion the procurement and tendering process for the works to complete them latest by May 15, 2017, which means that all budgeted works must be allotted and supply orders issued or procurements made by the specified timeline.
The Government order said: “beyond May 15, any work or supply orders can be issued only after permission of the Finance Department for which the concerned department will have to submit valid and satisfactory reasons for the delay”.
The Government has decided that preference will be given to only those projects, which will be completed within a span of three years, except the mega projects like hydropower or large connectivity projects, which generally takes longer period to complete than three years.
Before commencing any work, the Departments would have to ascertain from the Finance or Planning, Development and Monitoring Department that required funding for the projects will be available over a period of three years to ensure completion of work.
“No re-appropriation will be allowed on the budgetary provisions made during Revised Estimates 2016-17 and Budgetary Estimates 2017-18 except to meet any shortfall in the salary provisions or for the purpose of clearing past liabilities. Such re-appropriation will be made only with the prior concurrence of the Finance Department,” the official Order said.
Another important announcement made in the order pertained to phasing of expenditure during the financial year of 2017-18.
“Expenditure during the last quarter shall be limited to 30 per cent and during last month of financial year i.e. March, 2018 to not more than 15 per cent of the budget estimates,” the Order said, adding that payments in the last month shall be made only for goods and service procured while no amounts shall be released in advance except few circumstances.
The exceptions for advance payments mentioned in the Government Order included advance payments to contractors under terms of duly executed contracts so that Government would not renege on its legal or contractual obligations, any loans or advances to Government servants etc or private individuals as a measure of relief and rehabilitation as per service conditions on compassionate grounds and other cases with the approval of the Finance Department.
The Government has directed the Departments to avoid rush of expenditure on procurement during last month of the financial year so as to ensure that all procedures or complied with and there is no infractuous or wasteful expenditure. The Director Finance and Financial Advisors will specially monitor this aspect in their respective departments.
“The Government Departments will have to ensure that the tendering process commenced only after the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) are prepared, administrative approval and technical sanctions are accorded any all other requirements have been met. Only those works will be made part of the capital outlay and the annual budget for which the required DPR or Project Report is completed and other necessary sanctions have been obtained,” the Order said.