Considering the complex nature of various schemes and need to reach out to the last person, the state government has computerised the entire operation. We have to introduce an integrated financial management system and also the Government of India’s sponsored public financial management system, says Amit Khare, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Finance, Government of Jharkhand, in an interview with Shivani Tyagi of Elets News Network (ENN)
Give us an overview of the operations of Jharkhand government’s finance department.
Jharkhand is one of those states that have merged their planning and finance department. Since last year we have the department of planningcum-finance. We are trying to root it more as corporate strategy department which focuses on Vision 2030, prepares strategy for next seven years and then an Action Plan for three years. Finance, of course, is an integral part. Since planning and finance go together, it’s more of a strategic operation.
Could you share how the ICT is being used in the Jharkhand government’s finance department?
Given the complex nature of various schemes and the need to reach out to the last person, the entire operation has to be computerised. We have to introduce an integrated financial management system and also the Government of India’s sponsored public financial management system.
What has been done so far is that of all treasuries 32 of them are totally computerised. On a day-to- day basis, we remain aware about receipts and payments. But the next step is to ensure that the funds flow from these treasuries to the beneficiaries smoothly. That is also being put on an electronic platform. Same is the case with the central government schemes.
PFMS (Public Financial Management System) will come into operation till December 2016, which is the deadline given by the Government of India. But we are planning to ensure it gets operational by October 2016. The work of mapping has been completed in Jharkhand; all the central schemes are mapped on the PFMS.
The next stage is to register all the implementing agencies that work is going on. So an integrated system is being put into place where at every level, we know how much fund is flowing. Its benefit will be that fund releases would be possible just in time. So we need not borrow excessively. And, on the other hand, the department should not feel suffocated due to funds not flowing in time. That will be the objective of computerisation in all agencies.
Third, of course, is for the employees. Their various contributions to provident fund to the pension scheme, pay slips-good part is that it’s all computerised now. But we are also planning to computerise the pension payment by this year-end. And the third part is the cyber treasury. The new Jharkhand treasury code has provided for cyber treasury and become functional. We are trying to ensure links with the banks so that online payment and receipt through cyber treasury becomes easy.
What are your plans of m-governance for various transactions and reporting system?
Integrated management system and PFMS will help not only us, but also the departments in knowing how the funds are flowing and which level there is a flow of funds or delay and on the other side where funds are required.
In the absence of a computerised system what happens is that many a times while releases are being made by the State Government at the headquarter-level, there is mismatch at the district- level. Like the districts getting funds are those not in the urgent need of it but the districts actually requiring it immediately are found wanting.
Same things happen from district to subdistrict level and then at block-level. This is what we will improve through the computerised system so that at every level we know which entity requires funds as of now and how it can be augmented.
Jharkhand has done quite well in Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). We are quite excited about it. Jharkhand is one of the pioneers in the usage of Aadhaar. And we are building on the Aadhaar platform so that wherever government subsidies are involved, they reach the intended beneficiaries
What do you think about GST Bill?
We have already agreed on GST. Although we are a traditional state but the fact remains that GST will bring overall prosperity in the country, boosting investment and improving economic condition. So, as a producer state, let’s say the national loss may be there that will be compensated by the growth in the service sector because under the GST we will get the share of services. That’s one big area for Jharkhand, other than mines and minerals. Service sector is growing at a very high rate of about 14%-16% where we get compensated.
What new plans are on the anvil?
What the integrated planning and finance department is doing is to have a vision document for 15 years, we are calling it Vision 2030, and then prepare a strategy for next seven years and action plan for next three years, that will be cutting across all departments. Departments have their departmental plan but what we are trying to change is from a departmental mode to a mission mode.
How technology is playing an important role in Direct Benefit Transfer?
Jharkhand has done quite well in Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). We are quite excited about it. Jharkhand is one of the pioneers in the usage of Aadhaar. And we are building on the Aadhaar platform so that wherever government subsidies are involved, they reach the intended beneficiaries. So both are important – one is the intended beneficiaries, once they are clearly identified through Aadhaar, there will be no chance of duplication. So the government saves money i.e. one part, that there will be saving because if we plug the leakages so that help us in savings. But there is other side which is more important that is by using this electronic platform by DBT with integrated financial system and PFMS (Public Financial Management System), we can immediately transfer funds without delay to the beneficiary. So the beneficiary also gains. All genuine beneficiaries, like those who are availing social security pension, they get it immediately in their bank accounts without delay at the integral level. So that’s how DBT is proving helpful to the beneficiaries and gets savings for the government.