No headway on decision to recruit Accounts Assistants for Panchayats

Separate cadre imperative in view of devolution of huge funds
*Process held up for want of Recruitment Rules

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Feb 27: There is no headway on the decision to recruit Accounts Assistants for the Panchayats in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir despite the fact that separate cadre is imperative in view of devolution of huge funds to these grass root level democratic institutions.
The Administrative Council of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir vide its Decision No.51/7/2019 dated February 28, 2019 accorded sanction to the creation of 2000 posts of Panchayat Accounts Assistants exclusively for strengthening the functioning of democratically elected Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).
“The recently amended Panchayati Raj Act envisages devolution of powers, funds and functions to the Panchayats. As such, the Panchayats are due for receiving substantial funding from the Government. Therefore, the posting of officials with adequate knowledge of maintenance of accounts and booking expenditure is imperative”, the State Administrative Council had observed.
Though there are more than 4000 Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir yet keeping in view the resource position and to begin with 2000 posts of Accounts Assistants were approved for creation with the mention that one Accounts Assistant will be the incharge of two-three Panchayats depending upon the population and geographical distance.
Thereafter, the Government vide Order No.39-F dated July 11, 2019 made it clear that Panchayat Accounts Assistant will be a separate cadre for the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department and the recruitment will be carried out under SRO-202 dated June 30, 2015 by the Services Selection Board.
“The recruitment of the Panchayat Accounts Assistants has to be done on fast track, interview within the recruitment process shall be dispensed with and selection made by the Service Selection Board within 45 days based on the merit determined through written test”, the Government made it clear in the Order No.39-F dated July 11, 2019.
As the Recruitment Rules for the selection of Panchayat Accounts Assistants were under process of finalization, the Government ordered that pending finalization of Recruitment Rules the method of recruitment to these posts shall be governed by the draft Recruitment Rules.
“However, nearly one year has lapsed since the approval to the creation of 2000 posts of Accounts Assistants for the Panchayats but there is no headway on the decision”, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “almost every formality was completed but with the bifurcation of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories entire exercise came to the standstill”.
“We are waiting for the new Recruitment Rules to fill the posts created by the State Administrative Council”, officials privy to the development on this aspect said while wishing anonymity.
“Had swiftness been shown in the completion of recruitment process within the 45 days from the issuance of Government Order No.39 dated July 11, 2019, 2000 Accounts Assistants would have been available to assist the Panchayats in handling their accounts”, sources said.
“No-doubt Block Development Officers are helping in management of the accounts of the Panchayats but a separate cadre of Accounts Assistants is imperative to ensure utmost transparency in the utilization of huge funds, which have already been devolved to the Panchayats”, they admitted, adding “in near future the necessity of Accounts Assistants would be felt more as there would not be any let-up in release of funds to these grass root level democratic institutions”.
As per the decision of the SAC, the Rural Development Department is required to meet the salary of these appointees from the provisions available for administrative expenses under various schemes administered by it and in case of any shortfall, the same would be met by the Finance Department from its budgetary resources.
Moreover, the Accounts Assistant will be a District Cadre Post and transfers will be affected within the block by the BDO and within the district by the DDC. Their APRs will be reported upon by the Block Development Officer (BDO) concerned, reviewed by the Assistant Commissioner Development (ACD) and accepted by the District Development Commissioner (DDC) concerned.