Contractors and clearance of bills


The creation of Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) Limited in 2018 having been a bold and innovative decision taken by the then State Government to take care of the languishing projects that were in inertial mode for as long as even 20 years mainly in respect of the main and the great hump of finances, has enough scope to perform exceptionally well. Its track record in that respect has so far been satisfactory since most of such languishing projects in hundreds stand completed as on date while many others are in the pipeline of completion process. The Corporation is expected to live up to its main objective and purpose – that of providing financial support to speed up the completion of the pending held up and languishing projects. The main part thereof is to make the payments for all those works which have been certified to have been completed in all respects. We fairly know that the JKIDFC must be having enough resources to pay these bills because there could be no other reason for withholding them. We, however, fail to understand as to why bills worth crores of Rupees submitted by those contractors who were awarded contracts to execute the said works should remain pending for nearly two months. Though going by the practice of causing unnecessary delay in such matters otherwise by most of the departments which is totally unacceptable, that such a practice may not gain credence in the JKIDFC warrants that a mechanism, innovative one, should be evolved to clear bills as and when they are submitted within a specific timeframe, other things remaining the same. This is without prejudice to the right of the Corporation to satisfy itself about the work completed in respect of a bill submitted there – against, the quality and the specifications as also other parameters related to a particular developmental project. The number of such pending bills with the JKIDFC reported to be around 300 is likely to go up which warrants an early clearance. It is admitted that other departments with whom such projects are connected have to provide all the details and the feedback, possibly recommendations too in respect of bills pertaining to the projects so that JKIDFC clears those well in time. If such bills are duly approved and recommended for making payments, there seems no plausible reason to withhold them for two months. Contractors who execute such works usually borrow from Banks and have to repay but if bills are kept pending and not paid, not only does it create problems for the contractors but a sense of reluctance is generated in respect of future works to be undertaken by these contractors. Likewise, the Corporation too borrows from different financial institutions and even Banks and an amount of Rs.2000 crore is likely to be finalised in this respect, all to finance languishing and other developmental projects in the UT. However, in other words, the simple rule needs to be followed all in transparent manner that works completed in all respects should be reciprocated with promptly releasing of payments. It is learnt that the ”affected” contractors are running from pillar to post for getting the bills realised although they are pending for one to two months only. Once reasons of delay in making payments are shared with the contractors, probably they would realise and not mind waiting for a few days more but when neither the concerned departments nor the JKIDFC assures them about the likely date of clearance of such pending bills, it becomes a cause of worry.