Majority of deptts fail to pay heed to FM’s budget announcement

Deadline expires, inventory yet to be submitted for valuation

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 20: Though the assets of public importance are increasingly becoming susceptible to civil strife, terror attacks and natural calamities yet majority of the Government departments have failed to pay any need to the announcement made by the Finance Minister regarding their insurance, which otherwise was aimed at reducing burden on the State exchequer.
While presenting Budget for 2017-18 financial year in the Legislative Assembly in the month of January this year, the Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu had touched the issue of vulnerability of assets of public importance to manmade or natural disasters.
“The Government assets are increasingly becoming vulnerable to arson, civil strife, terror attacks, fire, floods and other natural calamities. As the creation of these assets takes considerable effort and huge resources, it has become imperative to have them covered under insurance”, he had mentioned in his speech, adding “by doing so their chances of loss get mitigated and the huge costs to be borne by the State in absence of insurance cover for such assets get considerably reduced”.
The idea about insurance of assets of public importance was actually mooted by the Finance Minister much before the announcement made in the Budget speech and he had made revelations in this regard during a meeting convened in the month of December last year with the Administrative Secretaries to discuss the thrust areas and policy framework for the Budget 2017-18.
However, even after the lapse of seven months majority of the departments have not paid any heed to the Budget announcement of Finance Minister, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding majority of the departments have not submitted list of important buildings, which need to be insured, to Finance Department to facilitate insurance of such assets for which deadline of April 30, 2017 was fixed.
The Finance Minister had also stated that all the departments will submit an inventory of land, buildings, machinery, equipments and other assets for which National Informatics Centre (NIC) will develop Management Information System. “However, this aspect has also failed to receive due attention till date although deadline for the same was June 30, 2017”, sources said, adding “even mapping of lands and buildings through Geographic Information System could not be started till date”.
“The Public Works Department, which was advised to inspect and valuate the assets identified by the departments for inviting Letter of Intents/Expression of Interests, is still awaiting the lists of assets required to be insured”, sources said, adding “it seems that Finance Department is also not interested in getting the Finance Minister’s announcement translated into reality in view of lack of resources otherwise it would have issued reminder(s) to the departments till date.
When contacted, a senior officer of the Public Works Department confirmed that none of the department has furnished any list of assets till date. “We don’t know whether the Government is really interested in the insurance of the public importance assets”, he added.
Pointing towards the massive damages caused to the assets of public importance during the unrest of 2016 in Kashmir valley, sources said, “majority of the buildings particularly schools torched by the mob are still clamoring for repair for want of adequate funds and keeping this in mind the Government should have ensured that Budget announcement is respected by all the concerned departments by timely furnishing inventory”.
“The Government should not allow lack of resources to create hurdles in translating announcement into reality so that in case of damages to the assets of public importance either due to manmade or natural disasters funds don’t become an excuse for timely restoration”, sources stressed and hoped that Finance Department will immediately take up the issue with all the concerned departments to facilitate follow-up action on the Budget announcement.
It is pertinent to mention here that entire J&K falls in Seismic Zone IV and V and has witnessed several earthquakes including the major ones. Moreover, massive snowfall, rains and flash floods also pose threat to the assets of public importance as such their insurance is the only option to avoid burden on the State exchequer.
EXCELSIOR has time and again exposed non-serious approach of the departments towards the Budget announcements with the emphasis on establishment of special cell to ensure periodic review of the follow-up action by the concerned authorities. By not evolving any such mechanism the Government is sending a message that Budget announcements are aimed at only befooling the masses.


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