Samagra merger hinders PFMS implementation

Samagra merger hinders PFMS implementation
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Irshad Khan

Srinagar: The merger of erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) from the current financial 2018-19 has hindered the implementation of an online financial management system aimed to ensure transparency and monitoring of fund flow in the School Education Department, officials said.
The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) – an online portal aimed at tracking fund flow to the state as well as the Government of India departments- was rolled out in J&K last year and was meant to be implemented in the state by March 2017.
With a scope of real-time monitoring of funds-whether allotted under state-plan or by the government of India- the PFMS in School Education Department was expected to ensure direct payment to the beneficiaries right upto the level of schools.
The PFMS, once implemented, has a database of all recipient agencies and is integrated with state treasuries for tracking of fund flow to the lowest level of implementation for plan schemes.
Even though 16,000 bank accounts were registered at as many schools under PFMS last year, an official in the School Education Department told Kashmir Reader that the system could not take off courtesy “merger of SSA, RMSA and TE” from the current financial year.
The 16,000 accounts, the official said, were opened in the “first quarter” of financial year 2017-18.
“But there was a communication (from the government of India) that the schemes were going to integrate from this year. So there was no fun having the accounts for the schemes that would be closed later on,” he said.
The official said that they will have to register new accounts with the PFMS under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, the merger of SSA, RMSA and TE.
The official revealed that the Chief Accounts Officer from the Ministry of Finance, Government of India recently asked the School Education Department to “open new accounts” for the implementation of PFMS.
“They will do a new mapping of the scheme. Funds will be distributed in those accounts only,” informed the official.
Besides the funds allotted under the state and government of India plans, the official said that salaries of teachers would also be monitored through the PFMS platform.
State Project Director Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, JK, Tufail Matoo hoped that in the School Education Department, the PFMS will become operational in the current financial itself for which the bank accounts registered last year would be put to use.
Matoo said that they were in touch with bankers to train the staff for the implementation of PFMS.
He said that the funds approved in the current financial year “will be monitored on PFMS”.
“From current financial year onwards, everything will be on PFMS,” he added.
Under PFMS, Matoo said that “one particular code” will be given to a Drawing and Disbursing Officer (DDO)- whether the SPD Samagra, Directorate of School Education Kashmir, a Chief Education Officer, a Zonal Education Officer or a principal in a school.
“The intention is that anyone can see on real time basis the position of funds and how they are being spent,” he said.
Once implemented, the PFMS will “expedite release of funds down the ladder,” a top official in the School Education Department hoped.
“We can monitor whether the funds are stuck at any level right from the finance department to administrative department to DSEK to CEOs and ZEOs and finally to the schools or various agencies like R&B or any other executing agency of different works,” said the official.
“If funds are stuck up at any level of the financial system, we will get to know the reasons for the same. Every stakeholder will monitor the system,” he added.
The top official hoped the PFMS would “do away with the exaggeration of funds for any expenditure as the system would be online”.
Secretary School Education, Rigzin Samphel hoped that in the School Education Department, the PFMS would become operational “from the next week”.
The PFMS, Samphel hoped, would “ensure full transparency and monitoring of the department”.
Although the PFMS accounts had “already been opened for about 22,000 schools” and several other DDOs, Samphel lamented that “They were just not using it”.
“In the first phase, we are using the existing PFMS accounts. In the second phase, we are opening fresh accounts for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. This will take about two months. Till then all officers have been strictly instructed to use the existing PFMS accounts of (erstwhile) SSA,” Samphel informed.