Jammu: J&K government, while reiterating “balanced pace of expenditure”, on Monday imposed “complete ban on official dinners and lunches, except those hosted by the Chief Secretary and the Lieutenant Governor or with the specific approval of the latter.”
It also banned holding of meetings and conferences at private hotels and imposed restrictions on procurement of furniture.
Besides, it imposed 10 percent economy cuts on “OE, LTC, Telephone, POL, Research & Survey and Hospitality & Sumptuary”; “conduct of camps and seminars” and “travel expenses” out of the Budget Estimates 2021-22.
These instructions were part of the austerity measures announced by the Finance department this evening in order to “promote fiscal discipline, without restricting the operational efficiency of the government and to ensure a balanced pace of expenditure.”
The department, in a reiteration of its earlier orders, asked all its departments and autonomous bodies funded by it to adhere to these austerity measures strictly.
Financial Commissioner (Additional Chief Secretary) Finance Department Atal Dulloo ordered that during the last quarter of the current financial year the expenditure should be limited to 30 percent of budget allocation and in the month of March, the expenditure should be limited to 15 percent of the Budget Estimates.
He stated it was also considered desirable that in the last month of the current financial year, payments should 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 the advance payments to contractors under terms of duly executed contracts so that government would not renege on its legal or contractual obligations or 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 or any other exceptional case with the approval of the Finance Department,” Dulloo directed.
The government departments and autonomous bodies have also been instructed to avoid a rush of expenditure on procurement during the last month of the current financial year so as to ensure that all “procedures are complied with and there is no infructuous or wasteful expenditure.” Director Finances or Financial Advisors have been asked to specially monitor this aspect in their respective departments.
The guidelines suggested that utmost economy would be observed in organizing conferences, seminars or workshops. Only such conferences, workshops, seminars, etc. which are absolutely necessary, should be held.
“Holding of exhibitions, fairs, seminars or conferences outside J&K is strongly discouraged except in the case of exhibition for tourism or art and craft or investment promotion. There shall be a complete ban on holding of meetings and conferences at private hotels. Government buildings or premises should be utilized for holding of meetings and conferences instead,” the order mentioned. Dulloo specified that the purchase of new vehicles to meet the operational requirement was permitted, but only against condemnation as a replacement measure. In case of domestic and international travel, the travel expenditure should be regulated so as to ensure that each department remains within the allocated budget.
He clarified that re-appropriation or augmentation proposals on this account would not be entertained.
“International travel shall not be allowed unless specific permission is granted by the Finance Department. 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. In all cases of air travel, the lowest air fare ticket available for entitled class shall be availed,” he instructed.
As per guidelines, no furniture will be procured out of the available funds except in case of newly established offices with the concurrence of the Finance Department. The old unserviceable furniture would be auctioned and auction proceeds deposited as ‘Miscellaneous Revenue.’
He ordered that no fresh financial commitments would be made on items not provided for in the approved budget of 2021-22 8. “Compliance Administrative Secretaries shall be responsible for ensuring compliance of the measures outlined. Director Finances and Financial Advisors shall assist the respective departments in securing compliance with these measures and also submit an overall report to the Finance Department,” Dulloo directed.