Nirmala stress on tech driven fiscal management

New Delhi, Mar.2:

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday asked civil accounts officers to focus on bringing in more efficient and adaptive technologies to further smoothen the working of the Public Financial Management System (PFMS).

Speaking at a function here to mark the 44th Civil Accounts Day, she said there is so much more to be accomplished and officers need to be responsive to the changes.

The minister further said the officers are not only competent accounts persons, but also competent technology professionals.

“Even as we are talking of technology, that itself is a challenge. Everyday it changes, newer versions come in, rapid changes are happening and therefore to keep on top of it is a big exercise. You have to constantly keep changing the milepost, bring in more and more efficiency and adaptive technology,” Sitharaman said.

She also said that they have “revolutionised” technology-driven PFMS and it has empowered India to be accountable, responsive and transparent.

“Today all over the world DBT (direct benefit transfer) and GST (Goods and Services Tax) are being talked about as one of the silent revolution that democracy can show off to the world,” the minister added.

She said the officers have shown that public finance is not opaque, but efficient and responsive to the public.

“This is biggest revolution. The Rs 1 lakh crore you have saved through DBT, these are not just symbolic. The Rs 1 lakh crore being saved for the public (is) by efficient use of technology without making anyone feel sorry,” she said.

Through efficient use of technology, this service has proven that corruption and wrongdoing can be removed from the system, she added.

PFMS is designed to help the government agencies for processing payments, tracking, monitoring, accounting and reconciliation.

It tracks funds disbursement and ensures that State treasuries are integrated with the Centre to ensure money is sent as and when required.

Speaking at the function, Expenditure Secretary T V Somanathan said integration of PFMS with railways, defence and postal service needs to be taken forward and the officers should expeditiously implement further ongoing initiatives so that it realises its full potential.

“I would like to draw your attention to huge volumes of data PFMS have within it which can be effectively use to improve the quality of expenditure,” he said.

He added greater attention is required to ensure timely payments.

Expenditure payments and tax refunds should be paid promptly without any kind of unnecessary delay, he said.

“I am aware that in most of these systems, there are multiple agencies involved and you are often at the tail end and the delay can be for various reasons beyond your control, but there is one element of the system which is in your control and what I would like you to do is to make sure that, that element of system is never a source of delay or complaint,” he added.

He asked the officers to be very responsive to complaints received with regard to payment delays.

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