Govt wakes up to expedite funds utilization

Bhubaneswar: A day after Centre agreed to institute CBI inquiry into alleged irregularities in the implementation of MGNREGA in Odisha, the state finance department on Tuesday shot off guidelines to all departmental heads to expedite utilization of budgetary allocation in several departments.

The state government faced stern criticism from several quarters for alleged diversion of funds allocated under the rural job scheme. Besides, the Supreme Court had also issued notice to the state government as to why a CBI probe should not be ordered into alleged irregularities in implementation of MGNREGA.

Finance department, in its letter, stated that the administrative departments are authorized to incur expenditure for FY 2011-12 as per the provisions in the annual budget for which modalities for sanction and release of funds need to be specified before hand.

The administrative departments are to review physical achievement against expenditure by 15th of every month against monthly/quarterly targets, the letter said.

In addition to this, the department laid emphasis on expediting the programmes/schemes under zero based investment review and state’s own flagship programmes like—Biju KBK, Gopabandhu Gramin Yojna, Biju Gram Jyoti, Biju Saharanchal Bidyutikaran Yojna, Mo Kudia, Madhubabu Pension Yojna and modernization of police force among others.

The department also stressed on submission of utilization certificates (UCs) in respect to expenditure incurred up to the preceding month to ensure that the funds are being properly utilized.

“The funds get spill over to next fiscal when the allocated funds are not utilized on time. As a result of this, UCs could not be submitted to Centre for Centre-sponsored programmes. Finance department has issued guidelines with an aim to proportionately utilize the funds,” Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patro said. 

The flow of expenditure should be evenly paced and the rapidity of expenditure should be expedited during the first quarter of the financial year as it is the working season before the onset of monsoon, the letter highlighted.

“If 50 per cent of fund is utilized in first quarter, 30 per cent in second quarter and remaining 20 per cent in next two quarters, then reconciliation could be done in March. But, now March is the only expenditure month,” former Finance Minister Ramkrushna Patnaik said.

Notably, the rationale behind expediting the expenditure during the first quarter is to avoid rush by the end of the fiscal.