Finance Department outlines measures to ensure fiscal discipline

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To ensure balanced pace of expenditure in the last quarter of the financial year without restricting the operational efficiency of the government, the Finance Department has outlined a set of measures to be followed by the government departments.

According to a circular issued by the Commissioner Secretary Finance, Mr Navin Kumar Choudhary, the Departments have been asked to limit the expenditure to 33% of the budget allocation during the last quarter of the year to ensure balanced pace of expenditure.

As per the circular in the month of March, the expenditure should be limited to 15% of the Budget Estimates. “Any Department exceeding this limit will submit a detailed explanatory note to the Finance Department by l0 April 2016,” the circular said adding it is also considered desirable that in the last month of the year, payments may be made only for the goods and services actually procured and for reimbursement of expenditure already incurred. “Hence, no amount should be released in advance (in the last month) with the exception of advance payments to contractors under terms of duly executed contracts so that Government would not renege on its legal or contractual obligations, any loans or advances to Government servants etc. or private individuals as a measure of relief and rehabilitation as per service conditions or on compassionate grounds and any other exceptional case with the approval of the Finance Department.

The circular states that the rush of expenditure on procurement should be avoided during the last month of the year so as to ensure that all procedures are complied with and there is no infructuous or wasteful expenditure. “Financial Advisors are advised to specially monitor this aspect in their respective departments,” it said.

According to the circular, the Departments have been asked to observe utmost economy in organizing conferences, seminars and workshops. “Only such conferences, workshops seminars, etc. which are absolutely essential, should be held,” it said adding holding of exhibitions, fairs, seminars, conferences outside the State is strongly discouraged except in the case of exhibition for tourism or handicraft promotion.

“There will be a ban on holding of meetings and conferences at private hotels and government buildings/premises should be utilized instead,” it said.

Regarding purchase of vehicles, the circular states that purchase of new vehicles to meet the operational requirement is permitted only against condemnation as a replacement measure.

Regarding domestic and international travel, it states travel expenditure should be regulated so as to ensure that each Department remains within the allocated budget for the same. “Re-appropriation, augmentation proposals on this account will not be entertained,” the circular states.

As per the circular within the country, the officers should travel only by economy class regardless of entitlement. “Facility of Video Conferencing may be used effectively and travel for the purpose of attending meetings should be avoided to the extent possible,” it said adding in all cases of air travel, the lowest air fare ticket available for entitled class is to be purchased, procured.

“No fresh financial commitments will be made on items which are not provided for in the approved budget,” it said.

According to the circular, while the Administrative Secretaries shall be responsible for ensuring compliance of the measures the Financial Advisors shall assist the respective Departments in securing compliance of these measures and also submit an overall report to the Department of Finance. 

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