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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: When the pandemic was on the verge of hitting the peak in Odisha around July this year, the State government adopted some rationalization measures in the wake of economic downturn to ensure that priorities like COVID response, livelihoods, agriculture and other crucial sectors are well funded.

In a move to enhance capital investment for revival of the economy and generation of livelihood for the people, and facilitate higher public spending within the resources, the government has now decided to relax some expenditure rationalization measures adopted by the Finance department in July 7, 2020.

Reportedly, the government had completely banned the purchase of new equipment except medical equipment and equipment required for internal security. However, as per the latest order of the Finance department, equipment required for promoting digital communication can be procured within the delegated financial power without reference to Finance department.

“The Government has been successful in minimizing the impact of the COVID-19 on the state economy as well as realization of resources. After initial shortfall in resources in the early part of the financial year following enforcement of lockdown and shutdown, the resources are now looking up due to partial recovery in the State economy, and some innovation in mobilization of resources and consistent monitoring,” stated Odisha Finance Secretary Ashok Meena in a letter to all the departments.

There shall be complete ban on sanction and drawl of new Long-term Advances (HBA, Motor Car Advance, Computer advance etc.) and other advances. However, if a part of the HBA out of the total sanctioned amount is drawn, the balance will be allowed to be drawn.

The ban on sanction and drawl of new Long-term Advances (HBA, Motor Car Advance, Computer advance, etc.) and other advances have now been relaxed and allowed. The government had however made sure in its previous order that if a part of the HBA out of the total sanctioned amount is drawn, the balance will be allowed to be drawn.

This apart, the Finance Secretary has mentioned that capping on expenditure out of the provision ‘Other Contingencies’ will be relaxed from 60 per cent to 75 per cent of the budget provision for the whole year. Notably, keeping the expenditure to the minimum level, the government had then said that only expenditure relating to Covid management and other essential expenditure like purchase of office stationeries may be incurred and had restricted purchase of office furniture, fixtures and furnishing.

As far as austerity in the implementation of schemes is concerned, the finance department has clarified that capping on expenditure out of the provision ‘Operation and Maintenance expenditure’ will be relaxed from 60 per cent to 75 per cent of the budget provision for the whole year and further relaxation shall be considered on availability of resources in January 2020.

Moreover, new tenders for execution of works for the ongoing schemes, procurement of goods and services may be floated keeping in view the budget provision without reference to the finance department. The execution and financial power will be guided as per the codal provisions of OPWD, OGFR, DFPR and forest code as applicable, Meena stated in the letter.

READ | Odisha Cabinet Approves Supplementary Budget Of Rs 11,200 Crore; Nod To 18 Proposals

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