Despite early allocation of budgetary grants, most departments of Jammu and Kashmir government have utilized only about 50 per cent of the allocation even as only three months were left for the current financial year to end.

The fact came to light in a high level meeting held by the state’s Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu.

As per the guidelines, the budgetary grants are supposed to be equally staggered by each department for utilisation in four quarters of the financial year and the under-utilisation has generally led to unfruitful and wasteful expenditure during the last quarter between January to March.

Such lapses have been highlighted in the successive reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) but the state officialdom refuses to learn any lesson.

Under-utilisation of grants is contrary to the policy of the government that had opted for holding early budget session of the legislature to enable timely allocation of budgetary grants to the departments as working season in the winter zone of the state is very less due to snow.

The state’s budget session is beginning on 2 January with a view to pass the budget well in time and provide grants to each department on 1 April when the new financial year begins.

Addressing the administrative secretaries, Drabu emphasized on strict implementation of budget directives to ensure expenditure up to 70 per cent till third quarter and rest 30 per cent in the last quarter of the fiscal year. He asked the administrative secretaries to accelerate utilisation of resources allocated in the budget.

It was agreed in the meeting that under Revised Estimates, allocation of cities and towns shall be enhanced by Rs. 200 crore to be met from the savings of Rs. 160 crore and another Rs. 40 crore by exceeding the resources.

Drabu stressed the need for keeping liabilities under check and to ensure that the projects were taken up in consonance with the resource allocations to avoid unwarranted fiscal liabilities. He asked the officers to adhere to the guidelines of the Finance Department and ensure that unnecessary liabilities are not created. He also asked for identification of core issues that lead to creation of liabilities.

“Expenditure management and monitoring system needs to be put in place while making expenditure,” Dr Drabu said adding that expenditure should be backed up with financial allocations to avoid unwarranted fiscal liabilities.

Detailed discussions were held in the meeting regarding expenditure and liability position of various key departments including Housing & Urban Development, Higher Education, Power Development, Roads & Buildings and School Education.

The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary BB Vyas, Principal Secretary Finance Naveen K Choudhary, Principal Secretary Higher Education Asgar Samoon, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Rohit Kansal, Administrative Secretaries and senior officers of Finance and concerned departments.