GoI withholds Rs 300 cr for delay in Panchayat reforms

We Are Pursuing The Matter: Sagar

MUDDASIR ALI

Srinagar, Dec 19: The Government of India has withheld over Rs 300 crore grants to Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRI) in Jammu and Kashmir over delay by the state government in completing reforms in the sector.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that under the 13th Finance Commission, Rs 918 crores were allocated for state Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs). Of this, Rs 600 crore falls under General Basic Grant (GBG) and Rs 318 crore under General Performance Grant (GPG).
Sources said while the state has received more than Rs 170 crore under GBG, the Government of India has not released any funds under the GPG. The state Rural Development Department has now written to the Union Finance Ministry seeking release of the funds.
“So far there has been no response from the Ministry,” sources in the Rural Development Department said.
However an official said once the state started the reforms, the GoI started releasing GBG. “Likewise we have undertaken many reforms necessary for securing General Performance Grant and we are hopeful that funds will be released. It (withhold of funds) is a temporary phase,” the official said.
Under 12th Finance Commission state government could not secure release of Rs 228 crore meant for the PRIs due to non-fulfillment of conditions laid down by the Government of India.
Minister for Rural Development Ali Muhammad Sagar confirmed that government had taken up the release of GPG grant with the government of India.
“We are pursuing the case seriously,” Sagar said. “The state has completed almost all the reform measures necessary for availing the funds.”
The GPG is subject to governance reform measures including adoption of an accounting framework, inclusion of PRIs’ budget statement in the State Budget document, adoption of eight database formats, audit of PRIs, appointment of independent local body ombudsman, electronic transfer of funds to PRIs and enabling provisions for empowering local bodies to levy property tax.
Commissioner Secretary Rural Development Department, Farooq Ahmad Peer, said most of these conditions were already fulfilled by the state. He said for last financial year the state government had included separate PRIs budget. “We have already adopted four database formats and work is going on the rest, the auditing process will be carried out and government has taken a stand on appointment of ombudsman,” Peer said.
However state government is yet to take a stand on empowering local bodies to levy property tax. “It is a contentious issue, but government has to take a call on it,” said an official.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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