A fractured decision of SAC

Introduction

 The State Administrative Council (SAC) in September 18, 2018 affected a major administrative restructuring by transferring powers like expenditure allocation from the Planning Development & Monitoring Department (PD&MD) to the Finance Department. The department (PD&MD) which is performing the duties with great dedication from last more than five decades, having technical cadre strength of more than 3000, has been divested of its primary functions with the transfer of core functions to the Finance Department.

 The decision of SAC, though wisely taken as per the wisdom, has left the personnel of E&S Cadre into state of uncertainty. It has been well said that change is always good and a constant too, but is painful for the employees and their resistance a natural and normal phenomena. It is more so when the roadmap is invisible, both in terms of the functions to be performed and career progression looked at by the affected employees.

Aftermath

After the SAC decision, it was made understandable that judicious use of manpower available in both Finance and Planning departments would be ensured through a complete restructuring of the Finance Department to make best possible use of the otherwise, strong manpower base available in the PD&MD. However, the restructuring process is yet to start and nobody knows when and who will initiate the same, whether GAD or Finance. The bitter truth is that a job half done is as good as none.

The two erstwhile divisions of PD&MD (Area Planning and PP Division) stands shifted to Finance along with workforce and renamed as Development Expenditure Division-I and Development Expenditure Division-II. No doubt that these two divisions are functioning under Finance Department and are manned by the staff of E&S cadre, but the question remains that until now nothing has been made public in black and white, about the future role of the employees of E&S service.

Though the government constituted a committee comprising Principal Secretary, Finance as Chairman and Principal Secretary, PD&MD and Commissioner/ Secretary, GAD as its members for looking into restructuring process and recommending the deployment of PD&MD staff across the two departments. But the report/ recommendations of the said committee are still awaited despite lapse of considerable time period. The picture alone, without the written word, leaves half the story untold.

The employees of the E&S service showed indignation against SAC decision and through the medium of representations requested the authorities for taking care of all concerns of the cadre particularly with regard to their career progression and job profile. The dilemma confronting the cadre over the months due to the SAC decision has created chaos and bitterness within the cadre which has also resulted into litigations.

The non-gazetted employees of the E&S cadre held elections recently and elected its union with full mandate to represent the cadre before the government for an amicable resolution of the dilemma confronting the cadre as a result of the SAC decision.

The J&K Non Gazetted Statistical Employees Association in coordination with J&K Civil Secretariat Employees Union pursued the issue vigorously with the government and had several interactions/ meetings with Administrative Secretary, GAD, PD&MD, Finance and Chief Secretary, J&K for taking care of future career of the employees of the cadre. Even though a copy of the roadmap (draft) covering all the concerns of the E&S cadre was also shared and submitted to the authorities, but no substantial progress has been made in the matter. The draft proposals purportedly stress and suggest on the following:-

Complete merger of the two Departments (PD&MD and FD) with rational distribution of work among the two services and one option was creation of two divisions in each department/ organization, one dealing with Revex Budget and other dealing with Capex Budget; or

having Integrated Finance Division in all the departments with the personnel from E&S Cadre as well as Accounts Cadre to be headed By Director Planning or Director Finance or as the case may be depending upon the quantum of Revex or Capex Budget.

Process of amalgamation

The PD&MD and FD with overlapping responsibilities are ripe for merger; because the planning and resource allocation functions would be more harmonious and logical.

The body allocating resources logically should also monitor the utilization of resources and fix accountability for the same. The allocation of resources at one place and monitoring at other may not be that effective.

Besides this, the effective use of staff available in both departments would be ensured through complete restructuring of the Finance Department. Otherwise, strong manpower base available in the Planning, Development & Monitoring Department would feel de-motivated due to perceived loss of their core functions.

 Aimed at improving governance and maximizing administrative efficiency, the move to merge and reorganize various government departments has gained momentum throughout the country.

The configuration of the departments outside the secretariat is not being changed and different HoDs continue to head different departments even after they are put together in one group at the secretariat level. The departments concerned are being asked and informed about the proposed re-organization/ merger to seek their comments and objections before taking final call on the issue.

Departments with more or less common functions like the Planning and Finance department can also be put together under one Financial Commissioner or Principal Secretary with two Secretaries heading Planning and Finance.

But, in J&K the case is totally reverse and no one from planning department had been asked for comments or objections, before taking this imperative decision in SAC.

However, when the Government of J&K has taken the decision and still is in the process of implementation, it would be in the fitness of things that a thorough exercise is carried out to allot functions not purely on secretarial grounds but on methodological and proficient lines to do justice to the E&S cadre. Employees who are affected by change must not feel as if they are being manipulated but should feel to be part of the whole process.

Finale

The government’s decision of increasing the functional mandate of Finance Department and constricting the PD&MD to a virtual non-entity is uncalled-for. Change for the sake of it does not bring the desired results to the organization. The government must reconsider its decision after going through all pros and cons and role of E&S cadre of not just highly qualified but relevantly qualified employees.

The members of the cadre are actually not opposed to the basic decision of the government of making Finance Department as sole organ responsible for resource mobilization and its distribution/ allocation for development. However, the nonexistent roadmap for the E&S cadre is a concern for all of us and the responsibility of the government for fair dealing in the matter.

Manzoor Qadir is Statistical Officer, PD&MD