Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stops salaries of 7 DDOs

Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stops salaries of 7 DDOsAs per report, for year 2016-17, total number of pending UCs was 1,782 amounting to Rs 12,282.52 crore across 53 departments | File photo from IANS Photos

Assam finance department stopped salaries of seven Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) of six government departments for failing to submit the utilisation certificates.

The state finance department also directed the concerned treasury officers not to honour their salary bills without leave from Finance (Audit and Fund) Department.

The state finance department said in an order issued on Thursday, “The Comptroller and Auditor General of India [CAG] in its report on state finance for the financial year [ending March 31, 2018] has pointed out that there is a significant number of outstanding utilisation certificates pending against grants released to various departments since 2001-02. As per report, for the year 2016-17, the total number of pending utilisation certificates was 1,782 amounting to Rs 12,282.52 crore across 53 departments. Such huge pendency of utilisation certificate with the departments reflects of poor compliance with regard to financial norms by the administrative departments and is a matter of grave concern for the state government.”

“With a view to addressing this problem of timely submission of utilisation certificates, finance department held a series of review meeting to impress upon the departments/DDOs for immediate submission of pending utilisation certificates. The Assam finance minister assured in the Assam Assembly that pendency of utilisation certificates for the year 2016-17 would reduce to NIL by September 15, 2019. Subsequently, finance department undertook multiple conciliation camps and specific reviews towards this end,” the order copy of the Assam finance department stated.

It also said, “The accountant general [accounts], Assam provided necessary assistance to various administrative departments in submission of the utilisation certificates. Despite such efforts, reviews and sensitisation by finance department, seven Drawing and Disbursing Officers under six administrative departments could not bring down their pendency to NIL, although time for submission of utilisation certificate was extended up to November 25, 2019.”

“Considering all aspects and in pursuance of the minutes of the meeting held on November 8, 2019, the salaries of the defaulting DDOs are hereby stopped forthwith,” the order copy of the state finance department said.

According to the state finance department, the Member Secretary of Assam State Legal Service Authority, Kamrup under the department of Home and Political has failed in submission of one utilisation certificate amounting to Rs 1.67 crore, the chief executive officer, GMDA failed to submit four UCs amounting to Rs 3,86,84,59,810, director of agriculture department failed to submit 15 UCs amounting to 1,43,67,81,436, director of char area development failed to submit 30 UCs amounting to Rs 81,16,90,028, director of secondary education failed to submit one UC amounting to Rs 4.6724 crore, deputy commissioner of Dhemaji district failed to submit six UCs amounting to Rs 4.185 crore and ADC [Dev]/Sr Planning Officer, Tezpur has failed in submission one UC amounting to Rs 6.62 lakh.

Earlier, Assam Finance Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma instructed the additional chief secreatry of his department to stop salaries of the DDOs who failed in submission of the utilisation certificate.

The order copy of the state finance department also stated that the restriction shall be revoked once completion of pendency position of utilisation certificates against the seven DDOs is done.