Govt set to take ‘Vote-on-Account’ in Jan, exercise set into motion

Departments gear up for Revised Estimates
Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Oct 3: In the absence of an elected Government, Governor Satya Pal Malik could take ‘Vote-on-Account’ for next financial year of 2019-20 in the month of January if no Government was formed even by then while the Government Departments have initiated the exercise for adoption of Revised Budgetary Estimates for 2018-19 and budget for 2019-20 by projecting their requirements for the next financial year.
Reliable sources confirmed to the Excelsior that ‘Vote-on-Account’ will become a necessity for the Governor if the political parties are unable to cobble up a fresh alliance to form Government in the State, which would lead to revival of the Legislative Assembly that remained under suspended animation since June 20 when Governor’s rule was imposed in the State.
Powers of the Legislature were now vested with the Governor and he could take `Vote-on-Account’ after getting data from the Planning Development and Monitoring Department, Finance Department and other concerned offices. Taking `Vote-on-Account’ for three months or six months remains sole prerogative of the Governor, sources said.
The `Vote-on-Account’ comes into effect from April 1 of the upcoming financial year i.e. 2019-20. It could be taken in the month of January next year as by February, the Election Commission of India could impose Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in the country for Lok Sabha elections, which are scheduled to be held in the months of April and May.
“A comprehensive preparation has to be done even for the ‘Vote-on-Account’ as the Governor had to take vote for expenditure of particular amount for three months or six months. Similarly, the Government also has to take vote on Revised Estimates for the current financial year,” sources said, adding the Departments have been asked to brace for the estimated figures for both.
However, in the absence of Government and no immediate possibility of the Government formation especially till December by when the Panchayat election process will go on, the Departments of Planning Development and Monitoring and Finance are unlikely to set preparations for full budget in motion in the near future as there was no elected Government in place.
But, according to sources, the Departments could be asked to be “budget-ready” in the need arises.
Few days back, Governor Satya Pal Malik had indicated about holding fresh Assembly elections in the State after Municipal and Panchayat polls. However, even if the Centre decided to hold elections in the State, the exercise can’t be conducted before March-April due to weather conditions and in that case, the possibility arises of simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections provided that no parties come forward to form the coalition Government by then.
In that case also, sources said, the `Vote-on-Account’ will become a necessity.
For current financial year i.e. 2018-19, the previous PDP-BJP coalition Government had presented general budget in second week of January.
Then Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu had presented the budget proposals for 2018-19 in the House, comprising a revenue component of Rs 51,244.72 crore and capital component of Rs 44,422.24 crore, on January 11.
Enumerating the fiscal reforms factored in the Appropriation Bill, Drabu had said the Finance and the Planning, Development and Monitoring Department (PDMD) would release both revenue and capital budget to all the departments within two weeks of the passage of the appropriation bill.
The Administrative Departments would, in turn, had ensured release of funds to the subordinate offices within four weeks of their receipt.
He had stated that no payments would be made by any Treasury or Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) from April 1, under any expenditure head, if the releases for the same have not been made and further received by the spending and bill passing Officers via Budget Estimation Allocation Management System (BEAMS). Treasury Officers/PAOs shall be personally liable for making payments on the funds released and received bypassing the BEAMS application, he had added.