Srinagar: A day after removing Haseeb Drabu from the cabinet and the finance minister’s post, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday handed charge of Drabu’s portfolios to education minister Altaf Bukhari.
The government issued an order stating, “In pursuance of Rule 5 of Jammu and Kashmir government Business rules and as an interim measure, I, Mehbooba Mufti, do hereby assign the charge of the departments of Finance, Labour and Employment to Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari in addition to the government business already assigned to him.”
“This is in partial modification of order no: 427-GAD of 2018 dated March 12,” it added.
Soon after taking charge, Bukhari deferred the Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) system instituted by Drabu till the next financial year.
“We may keep in abeyance the implementation of PAO System till March 31, 2018 in the first place,” read the order issued by the new finance minister.
The finance ministry blamed “technical difficulties and inconvenience to public” as the reason for suspending the PAO.
The PAO system was meant to replace the archaic system of Treasuries, thereby completely changing the way the government pays its bills for contracts and services.
Specific to geography, an official in a particular treasury would deal with all kinds of bills related to different departments. The PAO would check in one place if the bill is right, fulfills all the codal procedures, and would then make the payment.
Meanwhile, the news of Drabu’s sacking caused a flurry of activity in the BJP, with whom Drabu had stitched together a coalition government. BJP’s state president for J&K, Sat Sharma, and general secretary Ashok Kaul flew to Delhi to meet the top leadership.
“Sharma and Koul will meet senior leaders in the centre including Ram Madhav and Amit Shah,” sources in the party told Kashmir Reader. “There is unanimity that Drabu was a brilliant leader. They will discuss with the party leadership about his sacking.”
Sources also said that the two state leaders will present a report card about the party’s achievements in the three years they have been in government in Jammu and Kashmir.
Koul, however, denied that he and Sharma had discussed the sacking of Drabu with the top leadership. “Our purpose of visiting New Delhi was different,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the change in the finance minister.”