Govt begins preparations for Budget 2023-25

SRINAGAR, SEP 21: The government of Jammu and Kashmir has taken a significant step towards improving fiscal management by issuing directives to initiate budget preparation activities for the fiscal year 2024-25.

A comprehensive 17-page circular has been released by the Finance Department outlining the process and timelines for this crucial task.

According to the circular, all Administrative Departments, Heads of Departments (HODs), Budget Controlling Officers, and Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) have been urged to commence the budget preparation process for the upcoming fiscal year without delay. The goal is to facilitate the examination, compilation, and consolidation of budget estimates within the Administrative Departments, leading to their subsequent submission to the Finance Department.

Administrative Departments have been instructed to thoroughly scrutinize the estimates and forward their recommendations to the Finance Department no later than October 10, 2023. To achieve this target date, budget preparation at both the DDO and HOD levels is expected to be completed by September 30, 2023, and October 5, 2023, respectively.

The circular highlights that budget preparation forms for both the Revenue Budget and Capital Budget will be exclusively available online through the ‘Budget Estimation, Allocation, and Management System’ (BEAMS). It is emphasized that hard copies of forms, except for project-wise statements, will not be accepted by the Finance Department. Technical assistance in this regard will be provided by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Resource Persons available in each District Treasury.

Administrative Secretaries have been requested to submit Budget Proposals for each HOD to the Finance Department by the stipulated date. A separate calendar for the discussion of Budget proposals for different departments will be issued in due course.

The NIC is tasked with ensuring all necessary arrangements for data entry in BEAMS by DDOs, Budget Controlling Officers at the HOD level, and Director Finance(s)/ FA&CAOs at the Administrative Departments level.

The Finance Department has expressed concern over significant discrepancies between the actual expenditure reported by Departments and the figures presented by the Accountant General (A&E) Jammu and Kashmir in the Annual Finance Account of the preceding year. To address this issue, strict measures have been advised to accurately reflect and reconcile expenditure.

In addition, the circular underlines the need to project Revised Estimates for 2023-24 and Budget Estimates for 2024-25 in respect of the District Sector’s ongoing works. These estimates should be prepared in consultation with District Development Commissioners (DDCs), Block Development Councils (BDCs), and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) Members.

The circular also addresses the fund requirements for leave encashment and other retirement benefits, emphasizing meticulous planning to avoid any oversights. Furthermore, provisions for Leave Salary in the case of officers/officials due to retire in March 2024 are to be projected in the financial year 2024-25.

Lastly, the circular calls for separate estimations of disbursements under loans/advances and the recovery of loans and advances. It mandates the documentation of defaults in loan recovery and the measures undertaken by the respective departments to recover arrears. The initiation of budget preparation activities for FY 2024-25 reflects the government’s commitment to sound fiscal management and prudent financial planning in Jammu and Kashmir. This proactive approach aims to ensure the efficient allocation of resources and enhance transparency in financial processes across the region.

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