In a first exercise of its kind, Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb Drabu, today held extensive deliberations with his cabinet colleagues to align the Expenditure Allocation with the priorities of different departments.
“Expenditure allocation should be based on priorities of the ministers who head various departments of the state and not on some historically defined perspective. This will ensure targeted infrastructure development and, in the long run, proper utilization of funds,” Dr Drabu said, ahead of the exercise for budget preparation.
The Finance Minister said there should a system of normative expenditure because the state government spends lot of money without any major corresponding inputs from the concerned departments.
“The purpose of this exercise is to get inputs from different departments on where the focus of public spending should be and also to do away with the rigid budgetary structures. The results of expenditure should show up in certain indicators which they are not,” Dr Drabu said.
The first meeting was held to discuss Demand for Grants for Administrative Service, comprising Departments of Information and Public Relations, Department of Revenue, Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, and Parliamentary Affairs, Law and Justice and Haj.
Speaking on the allocation of grants for Information Department, Dr Drabu said Jammu and Kashmir has the highest per capita newspapers in the country and the proliferation of newspapers has created vested interests which are damaging the cause of journalism in the state.
The Information Minister, Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said the Department is pooling its resources for new areas including organizing training for budding journalists, exchange tours for media-persons, using latest gadgets for news gathering, venturing into digital media and revamping the publications wing for which, Dr Drabu said, the Finance Department will provide adequate resources.
“The Department will also organize training and exchange program for budding journalists which will help in their professional growth,” Zulfkar said.
During the meeting, the Law Minister, Abdul Haq, said there is a need to reform the system of law education and litigations in Jammu and Kashmir which have burdened the judiciary as well as the State Exchequer. It was agreed that the government will explore the possibility of setting up an alternate dispute resolution mechanism to deal with litigations.
The second meeting was held to discuss Demand for Grants for Social Development comprising Departments of Health and Medical Education, Social Welfare, Stationary, Food Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, Technical Education, Youth Service and Sports, NCC and Education.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Education, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Minister for Youth, Services and Sport, and Technical Education, Imran Reza Ansari, Minister for Social Welfare and Information Technology, Sajad Gani Lone, Commissioner Secretary Higher Education, Dr Asghar Samoon and Commissioner Secretary, School Education, Farooq Shah.
Bukhari said the Education Department has went through major reforms over the last three years and he proposed various measures that the Finance Department can take to further the process of strengthening the existing infrastructure in schools and other educational institutions across Jammu and Kashmir.
Lone said the government is setting up a system of social audit in the Social Welfare department which will remove discrepancies in the list of beneficiaries under various schemes. Dr Drabu also proposed that the various welfare schemes run by different departments can be merged which will enhance the amount of welfare given to the poor and needy sections of the society.
Ansari said the sports is emerging as the new attraction for the people who have been traumatised over the years of prevailing situation and the government must enhance the budgetary allocation for the sector to tap into the vast potential of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir.
The meetings were also attended by Minister of State (Finance), Ajay Nanda, Principal Secretary, Finance, Navin Chaudhary, Law Secretary, Abdul Majid Bhat and other officers of the Finance Department.