Governor to hold crucial budget meeting on Jan 30

With Governor’s Rule having completed a fortnight and still no end in sight due to delay in Government formation, Governor NN Vohra today asked Chief Secretary B R Sharma to hold urgent meetings with the Finance Secretary and other Administrative Secretaries of the Government on January 28 and 29 to expedite budget preparations for 2016-17.
After these meetings, the Governor will himself hold a high level meeting with the Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary Navin Choudhary and all Administrative Secretaries to finalize the annual budget 2016-17 on January 30.
Official sources said the Governor had to take the initiative for presentation of the budget as there were no indications of an early formation of new Government in the State. However, if the new Government is formed, it can take its own decision on whether to present full budget or take Vote-on-Account.
It may be mentioned here that Governor NN Vohra had also set in motion the process for taking Vote-on-Account in February last year when there was Governor’s Rule in the State and formation of new Government was taking time. However, PDP-BJP coalition Government was formed on March 1, 2015, headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and then Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu had presented annual budget within 22 days (of the Government formation) i.e. March 22.
This time Drabu had completed majority of exercise for budget presentation including meetings with representatives of the Industry while Chief Secretary BR Sharma, who also holds the charge of Planning and Development Department and Finance Secretary Navin Choudhary had also held Department wise meetings to know their requirements for budget 2016-17 but with the death of Mufti Sayeed on January 7, the Government ceased to exist and Governor’s Rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir on January 8.
Sources said the Chief Secretary and the Finance Secretary would have to do very little work as they had done majority of work earlier for presentation of general budget by Dr Drabu on January 22 as the Legislature’s budget session was scheduled to begin on January 18. However, the budget session was cancelled by the Governor as there was no Government in place.
Sources said the Government has now asked the Chief Secretary to hold urgent meetings for two consecutive days on January 28 and 29 with the Finance Secretary and all Administrative Secretaries for finalization of budget estimated for 2016-17 and revised estimates for ongoing financial year of 2015-16.
The Governor has asked the Chief Secretary to prioritize various demands of all departments in respect of all ongoing and new works keeping in view the needs of each sector.
These meetings will be followed by a meeting Vohra would be taking up on January 30 along with the Chief Secretary, the Finance Secretary and all Administrative Secretaries to finalize the budget for 2016-17.
Sources said in case of Governor’s or President’s Rule in any State, the budget is prepared by the Governor and passed by the Parliament. However, the Governor was likely to wait till last year for formation of new Government in the State as the Government had to get the budget or Vote-on-Account passed before March 31.
The previous Government had called the budget session from January 18 and the budget was to be presented on January 22.

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