The State administration’s failure to submit timely Utilization Certificates (UCs) of funds received under Government of India-sponsored schemes has led to choking of funds by several union ministries.
Last week Principal Secretary Finance department Arun Kumar Mehta issued a circular pointing out that various departments were either avoiding submitting the UCs or were “indifferent” toward timely submission of UCs.
“It has been noted that the departments either avoid follow up or are indifferent toward timely submission of UCs to the concerned ministries in the Government of India and this adversely impacts the flow of GoI-sponsored schemes funds and hampers the development of the State,” the circular reads.
The development comes in the wake of criticism from various union ministries and Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India who have been pointing out that the State has been lagging behind in the submission of UCs, which as per financial rules are to be mandatorily submitted for the release of further funds.
Principal Secretary Finance department in his circular to all administrative secretaries has pointed out that “GoI-sponsored schemes play a pivotal role in achieving desired levels of development in the State as such it is important to ensure expeditious implementation of such projects, which necessitates timely submission of UCs and timely achievement of physical and financial milestones”.
“The current status of the projects funded under various GoI sector schemes and GoI-sponsored schemes with milestones for the financial year 2018-19 and 2019-20 be forwarded to the Finance department for necessary action immediately,” the circulars read.
As per financial rules, the grants for specific purposes would be provided after the UCs are obtained by the departmental heads from the concerned officers and then forwarded to the concerned union ministries within the specified time-frame so as to pave way for the release of subsequent instalments of the funds earmarked under the GoI-sponsored schemes.
In consonance with the Financial rules, the Finance department of the State government has so far issued several instructions to the administrative secretaries and Heads of all the departments along with GAG in its reports has put the thrust on timely submission of UCs while reprimanding the State departments for “delaying” the submission every year.
Sources in the administration revealed the major defaulters in the timely submission of UCs include the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD), Roads and Buildings departments, Irrigation and Flood Control department, Social Welfare department, Health and Medical Education and Education department.
The Srinagar and Jammu Municipal Corporations which are under the aegis of the HUDD are also among the major defaulters, the sources said.
Last year in November, Chief Secretary (CS) B VR Subrahmanyam had told a joint meeting of the senior officers of GoI and State governments that fund flow from the GoI would not be a problem if the administrative departments “focus on improving the operational efficiency of spending and timely submission of UCs”.
“You will see the seamless flow of funds for development,” the CS had said.
However, the situation has not improved up to the desired level and timely submission of UCs had remained the least priority for the majority of the Government departments.
Through the latest circular, the Principal Secretary Finance department has once again enjoined upon all the administrative secretaries to ensure regular follow-up with the concerned ministries in GoI for assessing funds under relevant GoI-sponsored schemes and ensure timely submission of UCs in respect of all these schemes.