Proposing budget in January, perhaps for the first time in recent past, is aimed at utilizing non-working winter to manage plans and processes so that implementation starts with the first real sunshine. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Dr Drabu terms it “early bird” benefit to leverage winter and manage longer working season.
Under the new set-up, Finance Department and the Planning, Development & Monitoring Department will release 50 per cent of the Revenue and Capex (Capital Expenditure) budget by 10th February, 2017 authorizing expenditure to be made from 1st April, 2017. The administrative departments, under the new system, is supposed to ensure that the Budget is communicated to heads of departments and further down to executing agencies by not later than 20th February, 2017. In case this is not done, the budgetary provisions will deem to have been conveyed to the executing agencies for taking further forward action.
The administrative departments/HODs/ executing agencies will immediately set in motion the procurement and tendering process which should be completed latest by 15th May, 2017. This means all budgeted works must be allotted and supply orders issued or procurements made by the specified timeline. Beyond 15th May, 2017, any work or supply orders can be issued only after the permission of Finance Department for which the concerned department will have to submit valid and satisfactory reasons for the delay.
For 2018-19, only those works will be made a part of the Capital outlay and the annual budget for which the required DPR or Project Report is completed and other necessary sanctions have been obtained. Preference will be given to projects which will be completed within a span of 3 years, except, of course, the mega projects like hydropower projects or large connectivity projects.
“It will need to be ensured that before commencing any work, it has been ascertained from the Finance or Planning, Development and Monitoring Department, as the case may be, that the required funding will be available over a period of three years to ensure completion of work,” the budget reads. “No re-appropriation will be allowed on the budgetary provisions made during 2017-18 except to meet any shortfall in the salary provisions or for the purpose of clearing past liabilities. This is applicable for the balance period of 2016-17, revised estimated provisions as well.”
The idea is also an antidote to the “mockery” of the budget numbers as almost 70 to 80 per cent of the expenditure is booked during the last quarter of the financial year. Under the new set up, from the next fiscal, expenditure should be limited to 30 per cent of budget allocation. Further, in the month of March, the expenditure should be limited to 15 per cent of the Budget Estimates.