Jammu, Mar 14: The main opposition party in Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference (NC), today urged the Centre to take a “hard look” at the reason behind the Mehbooba Mufti-led state government’s decision to put the Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) system in abeyance till March 31.
In a tweet, NC working president Omar Abdullah asked the Prime Minister’s Office and Union finance ministry to look into the sudden and arbitrary reversal of the PAO system that was aimed at ensuring transparency in the utilisation of government funds.
“@PMOIndia & @FinMinIndia need to take a long, hard look at the reasons behind the sudden & arbitrary reversal of the PAO system that had been introduced in JK (sic),” Omar said in his tweet.
In another tweet, he said, “For 3 years the JK legislature was told that this reform would be a major step towards transparent use of funds. A measure approved by legislative vote has been overturned by a mere government order.”
Haseeb Drabu, who was sacked as the finance minister of Jammu and Kashmir, had been pushing for the implementation of the PAO system and had not wilted under pressure from various quarters, including the ruling PDP, to put it on hold, sources in the state government said.
Immediately after Drabu was sacked and Syed Mohammed Altaf Bukhari was given the additional charge of the finance ministry, the first order to roll out put the implementation of the PAO system in abeyance till March 31.
Drabu had proposed a reform in the government’s payment system by replacing the present treasury system with a functionally aligned PAO system, under which any government scheme needed to have three mandatory sanctions — administrative, technical and financial.
Under the proposal, the contractors had to upload the bills and the amount would have been transferred to their bank accounts online.
Drabu had proposed that for all receipts and disbursements of the government, the PAO would be departmentally aligned. The officials would deal with those heads of accounts, which are related to the function of their departments concerned.
Instead of receiving the receipts and disbursing the payments of numerous departments in the treasury system, the PAO would deal with just one department.
This will ensure a better understanding of the department, resulting in better forecasting, budgeting, accounting and reporting,” Drabu had said in his budget speech.