Initiating radical restructuring and unveiling some major reforms to bring about efficiency in government spending, Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu Wednesday presented Rs 79,472 crore Budget for 2017-18 including Rs 30,653 crore earmarked for capital expenditure to give push to infrastructure sector.
In his 80-minute long Budget speech in the State Assembly, here, the Finance Minister unveiled a roadmap for implementation of various reforms, recommendations of 7th Pay Commission and regularization of daily wagers and casual labourers. The FM announced to infuse equity of Rs 530 crore for improving J&K Bank’s financial health.
This was after a period eight years that J&K Government presented Budget in the month of January which, Drabu said, would ensure longer working season for undertaking developmental projects and programs.
Figures and focus:
Drabu, who presented third Budget of the PDP-BJP Government, said the total expenditure is estimated at Rs 79,472 crore. “The capital expenditure is estimated to be Rs 30,653 crore and Revenue Expenditure Rs 48,819 crore.”
The Finance Minister said main focus of the Budget is “how to improve the efficiency of spending”.
“Every year, we spend thousands of crores. It does not get reflected on the ground because there is inefficiency in spending. The principal focus of the Budget is to build systems and processes so that we can spend this money efficiently for entire state,” he said.
Later, addressing a press conference after presenting the budget, Drabu said the Budget 2017-18 “is a step towards improving fiscal management and operational efficiency of government spending.”
Highlighting the measures incorporated in the Budget, Dr Drabu said it is a departure from the traditional Public Administrative Budgeting to a modern Public Management Approach. The proposed new Public Management System is designed for greater flexibility of inputs and processes in return for greater emphasis on outputs and performance. “Effort has been made in this Budget to initiate a comprehensive change of procedures and organization, aided by Information Technology,” he added.
In order to streamline and strengthen the operational process of allocation and utilization of expenditure across sectors and activities, computerized budgeting system known as Budget Estimation, Allocation and Monitoring System (BEAMS), which is an online computerized system to distribute the Budget and to authorize expenditure has been introduced in the Budget.
“This will overcome the difficulties and shortcomings of current process of budgeting, releasing, and distributing the Budget within the Government authorities and booking the expenditure against the budget,” he said.
The Finance Minister said the Budget also proposes to move away from the old system of Treasuries to Pay and Accounts offices. “Computerized Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) will also replace the present system of budget control mechanism of audit and invoice checking at the department level,” he said.
To ensure better expenditure management, only those works will be sanctioned or made a part of the capital outlay and the annual Budget for which the required DPR or Project Report is completed and other necessary sanctions have been obtained, he said, adding that preference will be given to projects which will be completed within a span of 3 years.
In order to lower the expenditure during the last quarter, the budget proposes that from the next fiscal, last quarter expenditure should be limited to 30 percent of budget allocation and further in the month of March, the expenditure should be limited to 15 per cent of the Budget Estimates.
To make systemic improvements and start proper balance sheet management, the budget proposes to recall and re-infuse all the plan funds given so far to all Public Sector Undertakings owned by State Government. “The re-infusion will be done in the form of equity to strengthen the capital base of these Public Sector Corporations/Enterprises,” he said.
In case of J&K State Power Development Corporation (J&K SPDC), Government will infuse Rs. 1,900 crore as equity into the company, Dr Drabu said.
The Finance Minister said that to help the J&K Bank on its road to recovery, as a promoter, the Government will be making an equity infusion of Rs. 532 crore in two tranches with a hope that the bank will go back to its profit making ways in the first or second quarter of the next financial year.
Speaking about the security cover to the crops against damages from most of the natural disasters including hail, floods, draught etc., Dr Drabu said the Government has formulated a comprehensive insurance scheme for nine crops for which the provision of 75 crore in the budget has been kept for the purpose of premium subsidy. “Similarly, assets of public importance, Government buildings and vehicles will be provided insurance cover,” he said.
This Budget also proposed creation of a social security fund to provide "Universal Basic Income" to all those living “Below the Poverty Line” through a direct beneficiary transfer system. “Not only will it eliminate all the leakages, the cost of delivery will also be reduced dramatically,” Dr Drabu said.
“All the artifacts, rare manuscripts, paintings and other priceless items in the Toshkhana and the J&K Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages will also be insured after proper documentation and valuation. An amount of Rs. 5 crore is earmarked for this purpose,” he said.
Speaking about the Government Employees welfare Initiatives, the Finance Minister said that process of regularization of the casual workers of various categories will start in the course of the next financial year. “To ensure timely release of salaries to employees engaged under SSA, RMSA and others, disbursement of salary from the source of funding will be delinked,” he said.
The finance minister said the Recruitment Rules for Government Servants at all levels will be reviewed so as to synchronize job requirements with commensurate educational qualifications.
Addressing the media persons, Dr Drabu said that this budget also proposed increase in the advertisement tariffs to cover the inflation and increased cost of newsprint and other materials. “Place at Polo View Srinagar will be handed over to the journalist fraternity for setting up of Kashmir Press Centre ‘Aiwaan-e-Sahaafat’,” he added.
The Finance Minister highlighted various other measures incorporated in the Budget besides responding to the queries by the media persons related to the Budget 2017-18 and other issues.