Financial Crunch: Departments told not to start new works

Chandigarh, Dec 15: From a few lakhs to crores of rupees, delayed payments for purchases or works executed by different departments in the current and last fiscal year have sent alarm bells ringing in the Punjab government.The PWD (B&R) and Irrigation Department alone have a pending liability of around Rs 1,000 crore.

Other departments are in the process of assessing their total pending liabilities on account of pending payments of contractors, societies and individuals.

Faced with fiscal crisis, the Punjab government has directed all its heads of departments (HODs) not to start or propose any new work for budget estimates of 2018-2019.

Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said to clear the backlog of payments, efforts were being made to fulfil the past liabilities and complete the ongoing works that were started in the current and the last fiscal year.

Ironically, the scarcity of funds has hit the ongoing basic development works.All the departments have been asked to address a set to queries and prepare a priority list of the pending works before the Chief Secretary calls a review meeting on the issue.

The instructions coincide with the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently taking congnisance of a number of petitions by firms, societies and individuals flooding the courts for release of dues, pending on account of delayed payments for works that have been executed or under execution by different departments.

The government is facing civil writ petitions and contempt petitions on account of the delayed payments.The Punjab and Haryana High Court, while hearing a petition, had asked the Advocate General to explain whether Punjab was facing a “deep financial crunch”.

Source Tribune India