The West Bengal finance department has recently issued directives to 32 departments asking them to return its unspent fund and sought explanations from them on why funds allotted to them were not fully utilised, official sources said. According to a senior official at the finance department, the move was initiated to “strengthen” financial discipline. The practice will continue, the official said.
In a notification issued by the finance department, all the 32 departments have been asked to give reasons for their inability to spend the funds they were provided with, he said. The notification also mentioned the account where the unspent money should be returned, he said. The decision was taken in a recent meeting of senior officials of the finance department, the finance advisor and representatives of the 32 departments, the official said.
Another official of the finance department said, the principal secretary of the state finance department, Hari Krishna Dwivedi has informed all the departments that seeking explanation and asking to return unused funds from various departments would continue in the future. “It has come to our notice that in the last financial year, these 32 departments failed in utilising even 15 to 20 per cent of the fund they were alloted. The state government will use the returned fund in other development projects,” the source said.
The departments had failed to spend money from their personal ledger account (PLA), from their bank accounts deposits, he added.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on September 4 asked the departments to return the funds they had failed to utilise so that the government could utilise it for other development purpose. “During the meeting itself some departments tried to give their logic in failing to utilise the funds alloted to them. Representatives from these departments were also asked few other questions which they had answered in the meeting,” the official said.
Representatives of some departments, where some projects were already ongoing, were told to continue with their work and not to return the funds. “These departments who are already having some ongoing projects have been asked to continue with their work and they do not need to return any money now,” the source said.
Possibly with an eye on next year’s Panchayat elections in the state, the Mamata Banerjee government was trying to expedite projects and finish them as fast as possible, the source added.