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PCI likely to cut plan again for non-utilization of funds
3/14/2014 11:25:40 PM
Bashir Assad
SRINAGAR, Mar 14: Due to non utilization of funds at the end the current fiscal and delay in release of funds to the administrative departments , the Planning Commission of India is expected to cut the plan size further for the second consecutive fiscal. Though by the end of December 2013, the State Government had been able to spend just 36 per cent funds in district plan outlays for various developmental activities, as stated by it on the floor of the house earlier last month, it has again failed in releasing the due installment received from the PCI under the Plan 2013-14.
Sources in the Finance Department told Early Times that although the Government has received the funds from the PCI, however, there is unnecessary delay from the Planning and Finance Departments in releasing the allocations to the administrative departments. "One wonders as to why the Planning and Finance Secretaries delay the process of releasing the funds to the administrative departments and the District Development Commissioners under the district plan outlay as there are only 15 days left of the current fiscal," the official told Early Times.
He said if the funds already released by the PCI under the plan were not utilized, the same would not only lapse but the PCI would further cut the plan size. It would be the second successive year when the State would suffer the sharp cut in a plan allocation due to non utilization of released funds. Earlier, PCI cut State's annual plan by Rs 800 crores due to non utilization of released funds on time.
If the Planning and Finance Departments do not act promptly PCI may again release only upto Rs 7300 crores against the expected Rs 8000 crores in coming fiscal budget. The cut is expected due to delay in release of funds this year and its non utilization fully. Even this has been admitted by the Government in its Economic Survey report also. The official said it is this official apathy that the financial outlay of the state for the fiscal year of 2014-15 may likely face a sharp axe by PCI because of the poor developmental performance during the preceding year.
As per the information provided by the Government in Assembly during the just concluded budget session , the State has so far spent only some Rs 71817 lakhs against the total amount of Rs 197169.98 lakhs. With only around 36 per cent expenditure till the end of December 2013, the state is apparently unable to utilize the whole funds for the developmental activities. In summer capital Srinagar, only Rs 2267 lakhs have been so far utilized against the released package of Rs 6668 lakhs. Against Rs 10947 lakhs for Jammu, so far Rs 4520 lakhs have been invested for the developmental activities.
Some districts including Kargil, Poonch and Bandipora have witnessed less than thirty per cent developmental expenditures during the ongoing fiscal. Interestingly, the Government has already surrendered before PCI and projected its annual plan size for 2014-15 upto Rs 7300 crores..
Although there is some working season available in Jammu region to ensure maximum utilization of funds but in Kashmir the chances are much higher for its lapse given in view of the weather conditions and typical topography. Most of the developmental works in Kashmir and Ladakh regions remain suspended in winters and started in April only.
"The poor financial performance and unaccountability in State's financial system has always been pushing it on back foot on developmental front. The Government of India has most of the times held the generous release of funds for want of Utilization Certificates (UC) and poor financial spending," said a senior official in the Civil Secretariat. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) too has said that Jammu and Kashmir Government is making budgeting errors which include shortfall in utilization of funds and excess expenditure without available provisions.
"In 42 cases anticipated savings were either not surrendered or surrendered at the end of the year in the month of March leaving no scope for utilization of these funds for other development purposes," the CAG has said in its report.
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