In the wake of the prevailing financial crisis gripping the state, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, as an interim measure, has taken over the charge of finance (including Taxation and Excise), public works and power departments with immediate effect Thursday.
The takeover comes a day after an urgent cabinet meeting held at the CM’s bungalow, which gave Singh the authorisation to take all necessary disciplinary actions to imbibe a culture of financial prudence in key government departments.
An order to this effect was also issued by the Chief Secretary on behalf of Manipur’s Governor, relocating portfolios of Finance minister Y. Joykumar Singh and PWD minister Th. Bishwajit Singh.
The cabinet further agreed to conduct a thorough investigation of the sanction procedure and financial management for all key departments.
A statement released by the Chief Minister office said, “The Government is committed to bringing a new phase wherein financial discipline will be the hallmark of Governance.”
The Reserve Bank of India Wednesday banned all transactions fund from Manipur Government’s account citing excess withdrawal of funds surpassing the arrangement agreed upon with the bank.
Manipur Government is currently grappling an overdraft of Rs 247.48 crore, exceeding 36 days in a quarter, as per the scheme of ‘Ways and Means Advances’ for the year 2019-20.
Experts are predicting that Government employees will be the first ones to bear the immediate brunt of the crisis, thus depriving them of their salaries, pensions, etc.
However, Chief Minister today, assured its employees that timely disbursement of salaries and benefits will not be impacted.
Subsequently, rolling up his sleeves, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh also ordered an inquiry into Public Works and Power departments regarding the withdrawal of huge amount of funds. It is learned that the funds were withdrawn during March to May, while the Model Code of Conduct was in force for the recently concluded Lok Sabha election.
A committee consisting of three bureaucrats with principal secretary as the chairman was formed to immediately examine the details of funds withdrawn and the intended purpose. The committee is likely to extend its inquiry to other departments’ transactions as well.
The Chief Minister also gave strong instructions to all administrative secretaries and head of departments to provide required documents and information as demanded by the said committee, on time.