Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Govt nod to DDCs to go ahead

In a major decision aimed at ensuring continuation of development works across the State due to delay in sanction of annual plan, the Government has directed the District Development Commissioners (DDCs) to go ahead with the works without waiting for plan sanction. The Government proposed to use its own internal resources for funding the development works.

Official sources told the Excelsior that since the months of summer accounted for major working season in many hilly areas of the State and plan amount was unlikely to be released before next couple of months, the Government, like the previous couple of years, has given a nod to the DDCs to go ahead with ongoing development works, which would be funded by the State’s internal resources, which have witnessed a significant increase during just ended financial year of 2011-12.

"We have directed the DDCs to go ahead with all ongoing development works without waiting for sanction of annual plan of the State for 2012-13. The DDCs would get the funds from internal resources of the State till annual plan of the State was finalized by the Planning Commission of India’’, they said.

They added that the DDCs have, however, been directed not to undertake new development works till finalisation of the plan followed by District Development Board (DDB) meetings.

"We have enough amount from our internal resources to ensure that ongoing development works didn’t suffer in any part of the State especially the hilly and far flung areas, which have limited working season in the months of summer as they remained snowbound for most of the winter months’’, sources said.

They pointed out that the DDCs have been told that sufficient funds would be available for the schemes after the sanction of State’s annual plan either in May or June and payments to the contractors, where heavy amount was required, could be released later.

Earlier, the development works used to suffer due to delay in sanction of annual plan but the Government has now ensured that the ongoing works continued uninterrupted without waiting for plan sanction as they will be funded from own resources of the State.

According to sources, annual plan of the State for current financial year of 2012-13, which was pegged at Rs 7300 crore in annual budget, was likely to be sanctioned in May or June after a couple of rounds of the meetings between State bureaucrats and top brass of the Planning Commission of India.

First round of the meeting of State bureaucrats with the Planning Commission officials was held on December 15 last year. The meeting among others was attended by Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, BB Vyas, Incharge Planning and Sudanshu Pandey, the then Principal Secretary, Finance. Mr Pandey has since been replaced by Mohammad Iqbal Khandey as Principal Secretary Finance and he would represent the Finance Department in next meeting with the Planning Commission of India.

Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather had pegged State’s annual plan at Rs 7300 crore and Prime Minister’s Re-construction Plan (PMRP) at Rs 700 crore while presenting annual budget in the Legislature on March 6. Sources said the Government was confident of getting same amount of plan and PMRP as the Planning Commission had assured the State of 10 per cent step up in the plan for the current financial year of 2012-13 as compared to last fiscal year of 2011-12 when the State was given Rs 6600 crore worth plan.

Sources said the Planning Commission in its first meeting with the State bureaucrats had sought the details of targets of Own Tax Revenue in the State, reforms in different sectors and expenditure of current financial year’s plan. The Planning Commission had expressed satisfaction over all three issues.

The State bureaucrats had apprised the Planning Commissioner and the Union Finance Ministry officers that it had already initiated some austerity measures but due to security considerations it was not in a position to take more such steps.

The delegation apprised the Planning Commission that the State’s power revenue was also increasing but a big gap remained between power bill and revenue as it can’t initiate all reforms in one go.

"It was in view of this that the State Government had batted for annual power reforms grant to the tune of Rs 2000 crore for few years till the State managed to bring reforms and improve its revenue’’, sources said, adding that the Planning Department assured to give a thought to the State’s demand.

Worthwhile to mention here that J&K Government was given Rs 1300 crore worth annual power reforms grant for three years in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. The grant was later stopped as the Government didn’t take significant power reforms then.

At least two meetings were likely to be held at the official level between the State Government and the Planning Commission before the annual plan was finalized. 

The annual plan for 2012-13 and other grants to the State for the next financial year would be finally clinched next year in a meeting between Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather and Planning Commission of India Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

During current financial year, the State had been allocated Rs 6600 crore worth annual plan and Rs 1200 crore under PMRP. The State has asked for a 10 per cent step-up in the annual plan for next financial year, which comes around at Rs 7300 crore.

The Planning Commission has also asked the State Government to give projections for 12th five-year plan, which begins April 1, 2012. The 11th five-year plan ended on March 31 this year.

The State was working out the amount, priority sectors and other requirements to be projected before the Central Government and the Planning Commission for 12th five-year plan in the next few days.

The Ministries of Finance and Planning were engaged in hectic consultations over the amount and priority sectors for 12th five-year plan, whose first meeting was expected to be convened by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee shortly.

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