Red-tapism delaying budget fund release by 1 year
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, February 23: For the common man, it is a mystery why funds to implement any State budget proposal are released almost a year later, when it is too late to spend the funds fully by March end. It is a lengthy, convoluted exercise in bureaucratic red-tapism which the CAG has criticized frequently to no avail. The same sad tale is recurring this year too.
A blame game over the non-submission of utilization certificates (UCs) has started between the Assam government and the Centre. On this issue, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi recently criticized the rendra Modi government for not releasing allocated funds to the State under various schemes. The Centre on the other hand, warned the State government that no funds will be released further until the pending UCs are submitted soon.
In this tug of war between New Delhi and Dispur, the State government departments are bearing the brunt. All the departments have been asked to submit their pending UCs on time.
However, departmental sources blamed both the State and the Central governments for the departments’ failure to submit UCs on time.
On the pending UC issue, a worried State Chief Secretary wrote a letter (U.O.No.FM.33/2012/PT/59), dated January 30, 2015, to all the departments, saying: “As on 31st March 2014, the number of pending UCs is 19,671 amounting to Rs 11,834 crore. It is a matter of concern that neither the number of pending UCs nor the amount outstanding is showing a declining trend.”
According to sources, the reasons behind delay in submission or non-submission of UCs are many. “Every year in March, the State government presents its budget, but the initial works on implementation of budgetary promises, schemes, programmes, etc. start almost six months after its presentation. Another two or three months are passed due to departmental proceedings like submission of proposals, conducting scrutiny, fielding queries and re-submission of fil proposals. After that the tendering process begins, which also takes one month. From February, the entire process gathers steam.”
“It has become a norm in the State that 60 per cent of the amounts earmarked in the State budget for different departments are released by the Fince department during March end, a practice criticized even by the CAG in its reports,” sources said, adding, “Similarly, the Central government releases funds to the State government for different programmes during March end.”
“As we don’t receive funds from both the Fince department and the Central government before March end, we cannot spend all funds within this short period and that is why we are uble to submit UCs on time,” departmental sources added.
According to these sources, UCs can be submitted on time if budgetary allocations are released at regular intervals, and not during March end only.