Opp takes jibe at Himanta over unspent funds

 GUWAHATI, Feb 13 – Launching a scathing attack at Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma over “poor” spending pattern of the government, opposition Congress and AIUDF today insisted that due to the laxity of the Finance department, other departments are suffering.During the question hour at the Assembly today, AIUDF legislator Aminul Islam alleged that different government departments have failed to spend even 30 per cent of the State plan allocation till January 31.

“Files are stuck in the Finance department for five to six months. Unless the Finance department is active, there cannot be any development in the State. It is due to the laxity of the Finance department, other departments are having to suffer,” Islam said.

He said the issue should be taken up at a cabinet meeting and the Finance department prodded to act swift. If required, the process of issuing ceiling and release of funds should be made simpler, he opined.

Congress legislator Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha said though the government has changed, the system has not. “I have shot off several letters to the officials (for release of funds), but they do not even bother to reply,” he said.

Later speaking to journalists, Aminul Islam said the Finance Minister had during the last budget session said that quarterly review meetings will be held with departments and 75 per cent of the allocated funds be spent by December. Specific three-month targets were also set by the government, he said.

“But till January 31 last, we have seen that PWD has spent only around 25 per cent, Fishery 24 per cent, P&RD 20 per cent, Handloom & Textile 19 per cent. Now, with less than two months remaining for the financial year to end, will it be possible to send the remaining money, given the long and cumbersome process of release of funds,” he asked.

Noting that Himanta Biswa Sarma had been keeping busy in the elections in the other northeastern states and remaining absent in the Assembly, Islam said if Sarma is so preoccupied in party affairs, another responsible person should be given charge of the important department.

Replying on behalf of the Finance Minister in the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary assured that the allocated funds will be spent by March-end. “In many cases ceilings have been issued, but because the money has not been drawn, it is showing unspent. With the entire system being online now, we are also reviewing the e-file status every week,” he said.

Source : http://assamtribune.com