J&K Municipal Accounting Manual yet to be adopted
Audit observations fail to receive H&UDD’s attention
JAMMU, July 15: Checking inaccuracies in accounting system and ensuring transparency in the expenditure by the Urban Local Bodies have remained least priority for the State Government even at a time when the Union Government has started releasing huge financial assistance to these grass root democratic institutions.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that about eight years back the Union Government prepared National Municipal Accounting Manual which State Governments could adopt to their specific requirements. In the year 2011, the State vide Government Order No.189-HUD dated August 8 accorded sanction to the adoption of the Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Accounting Manual by all the Urban Local Bodies in the State.
It was specifically mentioned in the order that henceforth Urban Local Bodies will maintain their accounts as per this Manual on Double Entry Accounting System by providing necessary training to the concerned manpower.
“The adoption of this Manual by all the Urban Local Bodies—-Municipal Corporations, Municipal Committees and Municipal Councils will be a paradigm shift in the accounting methods and procedures and will undoubtedly enhance the efficiency in the revenue collection and transparency in the expenditure”, the Government had stated at that time.
It was further mentioned that the use of web-based applications for accounting system among other things will expedite accurate generation of various reports instantaneously which otherwise consume lot of time and will help in checking inaccuracies. “Moreover, this Manual will make the expenditure more transparency and thus strengthen the financial system”, the Government had further mentioned.
“However, Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Accounting Manual is being followed only in the Jammu Municipal Corporation and Srinagar Municipal Corporation but not in letter and spirit and in other Urban Local Bodies like Municipal Councils and Municipal Committees no serious step has been taken for making use of Manual even nearly eight years after the issuance of Government order in this regard”, sources disclosed.
They further said, “due to the failure of the Government particularly the Housing and Urban Development Department to use Municipal Accounting Manual, inaccuracies continue to persist in the accounting system and transparency in the expenditure by the Urban Local Bodies has largely remained a distant dream”.
When contacted, a number of officers of the Directorates of Urban Local Bodies Kashmir and Jammu as well as Housing and Urban Development Department failed to give any plausible reason behind inordinate delay of nearly eight years in adoption of Municipal Accounting Manual by the Municipal Committees and Municipal Councils.
While admitting that this Manual will play crucial role in ensuring transparency in expenditure by the Urban Local Bodies they simply said, “we are initiating steps so that this mechanism is followed in near future”.
However, sources said, “early adoption of Municipal Accounting Manual is imperative especially when the Union Government has started releasing huge financial assistance to the Urban Local Bodies in order to achieve the objective behind holding their elections in the recent past”, adding “already a number of Municipal Committees and Municipal Councils are in the dock for financial irregularities and had this Manual been adopted such cases could have been checked up to large extent”.
It is pertinent to mention here that in order to make the Urban Local Bodies self-sustaining and vibrant service delivery institutions, the Union Ministry of Urban Development some years back initiated several reform measures in the urban sector for improving the capacity and the resource position of the Urban Local Bodies.
One of such reforms is migration from Single Entry Based Accounting System to Accrual Based Double Entry Accounting System, which is aimed at making the accounting system effective and transparent.
“It is a matter of serious concern that Housing and Urban Development Department is dilly-dallying on adoption of Municipal Accounting Manual by the Urban Local Bodies even after being reprimanded by the Accountant General (Audit) Jammu and Kashmir”, sources said while disclosing that Accountant General has laid stress on immediate action on this aspect by the concerned authorities a number of times.