Punjab finance dept cracks whip against erring officials

Chandigarh, October 12: Taking a serious view of the cash-strapped Punjab government departments spending beyond their limit of budgetary provisions set for various schemes, the state finance department has issued stern directions to all department heads for taking disciplinary action against erring officers not adhering to the rule book.

The finance department has also made it clear in its October 6 communique to the administrative secretaries, Punjab and Haryana high court registrar, district and sessions judges and divisional commissioners that several departments were spending even without the budget approval.

At the same time, funds provided for some schemes was not being used at all. The controlling authorities have been directed to issue appropriate directions to the officials concerned to strictly adhere to the policy guidelines.

According to the finance officials, the number of outstanding abstract contingent (AC) bills had increased to 650 by July 2017. Of these, 262 bills are from financial year 2012-13 to 2015-16 of the previous SAD-BJP regime.

Through such bills, the departments take advance money from the treasury before incurring expenditure for which the departments have to submit detailed contingent (DC) bills later in the form of vouchers and receipts.

It has been found out that despite various objections being raised by the accountant general branch from time-to-time in the past, a number of treasury offices have so far not provided details and vouchers of the expenses incurred by them on various schemes. Also, officials of several departments have not been sending details of the receipts and expenditure of funds for the scrutiny of accountant general branch, which has also stated that details of receipts and expenditure of various departments were not matching.

The finance department has reiterated that the expenses should be restricted to the budget limit and the controlling officers should ensure that bills related to the outstanding ones should be immediately deposited.

The accountant general branch in its various reports, including the one sent on September 14, had pointed out various irregularities wherein after 2011-12 during the previous SAD-BJP regime, a number of departments had taken huge amount from the treasury but had not given an account of the expenditure.