Following the wide-ranging public expenditure reforms announced by the Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu in the State Legislature earlier this month and making the State Government legally bound to expedite resource utilization, the Finance Department on Tuesday issued comprehensive guidelines to enforce fiscal discipline, a government spokesman said in a statement.
The spokesman said that according to an elaborate order issued by the Principal Secretary Finance, Navin Kumar Choudhary here today, the Administrative Secretaries have been asked to immediately put in place appropriate and robust mechanism of checks and balances in their departments, so that sustained compliance with the brushed-up public expenditure measures is not only ensured but also facilitated.
It said these measures/protocols represent the first decisive step to reform the quality and efficiency of public expenditures and have been rolled out at both the Policy as well as Operational levels.
Pertinently, while the protocols at the Policy level have already been enumerated elaborately in the Appropriation Bill-2018, and have been reiterated in the Government Order issued today, the Finance Department has today outlined a slew of measures on the operational level to ensure fiscal discipline. “Following the legislative backing, these measures now have the force of law and, by implication, the attendant consequences,” the order said.
It said the objective of these expenditure reforms is to enforce accepted standards of fiscal propriety, as envisaged in the J&K Finance Code. “The passage of these measures in the State Legislature, as part of the Appropriation Act, is to ensure that conformity to these measures is treated by the Departments as a foregone conclusion. These measures, essentially, aim at drawing clear and visible redlines for the departments,” the order said adding that there is no better way for the departments to do this than by internalizing and institutionalizing the virtues of restraint, discipline and propriety in their operational systems and, accordingly, re-engineer their policy and operational paradigms.
It said there is an element of personal liability, both for Treasury Officers and PAOs, built in the expenditure reforms protocol and if they breach redlines set up for them, they may note that any violation, even unintended, will have costs, particularly, as no allowance has been made for any breach in these protocols, be it intended or unintended or circumstantial. “The compliance with the fiscal protocols/measures shall be monitored by the Budget Division in the Finance Department on an ongoing basis,” it said.
According to the order, no payments shall be made by any Treasury Officer/PAO from the 1st April 2018, under any expenditure head, if the releases for the same has not been made and further received by the spending and bill passing officers via BEAMS. Treasury Officers/PAOs shall be personally liable for making payments on the funds released and received bypassing the BEAMS application.
It said the procurement plans of the departments in the next fiscal shall be limited by an outermost cap of 60 days. From conceiving the nature and quantity of public goods and services to be procured to preparing tenders/RFOs/Eols to finally awarding the contract, the departments shall compulsorily finish the whole process within 60 days. Any spillover in timeline shall be allowed only under the orders of the Cabinet based on some cogent reasons. In all other cases, deviation from the norms shall be automatically visited with the appropriate disciplinary actions.
Expenditure during the last quarter, the order said, shall be restricted to not more than 30 percent of the Revised Estimates. Treasury Officers/PAOs shall have an added responsibility to ensure that the departments are held to this expenditure ceiling.
No new procurement shall be made by any Department under “Machinery and Equipment” head without building a robust inventory management system so as to have proper justification for procurement of new machinery.
“For this purpose, all Departments will make an ‘Asset Inventory’ and further procurements can be made only with the approval of Competent Authority with the full justification given therein,” it said.
The funds under object head “Maintenance and Repairs” shall be spent only after detailed expenditure and action plan distributed into different components is approved by the competent authority with the concurrence of Director Finance IFA & CAO of the Department as the case may be.
Funds under the object head “Uniforms” shall be released to the Departments on the case to case basis after backed duly by the supply order and invoice.
Funds under “Stipend and Scholarship” shall be operationalized subject to the condition that each beneficiary is verified through biometric Aadhaar based system. The database shall mandatorily be compiled latest by 31st May 2018 and in the absence of the same no payment shall be made beyond June 2018.
Procurement by debit to object head “Instruments” above Rs 50 lakhs shall have an inbuilt clause in tenders for AMC for a minimum period of 5 years.
Any procurement under the head “Office Equipment and Machinery Appliances” will be made only after an inventory of such procurement made during last 10 years, their usage and conditions, the requirement of further procurement as clearly brought out and approved by the Competent Authority.
Transportation for the purpose of “Durbar Move”, carrying of food grains for public distribution and for any major requirement of transport facility, the Departments must enter into a contract for at least two years with reputed transport/logistic company through a transparent bidding system.
A new head “Wages (Outsourcing)” has been introduced under which funds for disbursement of all kinds of casual labors shall be released by Finance Department on the case to case basis. No wages shall be paid out of any other head from next fiscal 2018-19. Treasury Officers/PAOs shall ensure that no wages are drawn from maintenance, outsourcing or any other head except under this newly introduced head.
Director Finance IFA & CAO in the Administrative Departments shall build the inventory of existing civil deposits. All the civil deposits shall be recalled except in such cases where it is assured by the departments that they will use them in the next two months of making such deposits.
Orders for deputation of officers/officials on short-term training/seminars/higher education refresher courses/ conferences etc outside the State shall be issued only after obtaining prior approval of the Finance Department.
With each bill, Treasury Officer/PAO shall ensure that the concerned DDO of the intending Department appends certificate indicating therein that no new engagement has been made or any sort of wages paid or intended to be paid to new engagements under any circumstances.
The order said that at the policy level, the reforms include that Revenue and Capital budgets shall be released by the Finance Department and the Planning, Development and Monitoring Department to all the Administrative Departments within two weeks of the passage of the Appropriation Act.
The Administrative Departments shall, in turn, release the funds so received to the subordinate offices within four weeks of their receipt, falling which these funds shall be deemed to have been transferred to the intended DDOs on the dates they ought to have been released by the Administrative Departments/Controlling Officers.
Planning, Development and Monitoring Department shall appropriately classify all capital allocations to be made in the next fiscal, indicating therein the ‘Name of the Work/Scheme against Detailed Head ‘115-Works’ as laid out in the authorized allocations. In the absence of the above schematic classification, the relevant Capex release shall be deemed as invalid and not open to being operationalized.
The Planning, Development, and Monitoring Department shall mandatorily upload department-wise ‘Name of the Schemes/Works/Projects’, forming part of the Capex, for the fiscal 2018-19, or, as per the format notified from time to time, along with the respective allocations on its website.
Only such works shall be authorized for execution, as have prior administrative approval, technical sanction, and appropriate financial backup.
Expenditure monitoring across all departments shall be done on a real-time basis through BEAMSIPFMS. (vii) Funds shall be spent only on the approved items of the expenditure and strictly for the purpose they have been released. There shall be no re-appropriation of funds except where the departments have spent at least 55 percent of funds received ending December 2017. However, where their spending levels are below 55 percent, the remaining unspent balance of 70% of funds shall lapse to the Government.
The State Share of the CSSs and the expenditure to be incurred on utility shifting, land compensation etc. under PMDP projects shall be the first charge on the funds lapsing to the Government during the last quarter.
There shall be, henceforth, no engagement of casual A workers, need-based workers etc. by any department. The Planning, Development and Monitoring Department shall under invariably condition all developmental/capex releases to the departments to the unconditional vouchsafing by the latter that they shall refrain from making fresh engagements.