Govt plans to curtail financial powers of Panchayat heads

Govt plans to curtail financial powers of Panchayat heads
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Govt plans to curtail financial powers of Panchayat heads

Highlights

  • There are 5,963 Gram Panchayats in the state with 91,437 members.
  • Presidents of many Gram Panchayats in the state have fallen into Lokayukta's trap while taking bribes to pay bills for various government projects and programmes. The government has observed that the unnecessary delay in payment of bills in many cases

Bengaluru: The state government has planned to curtail the powers of gram panchayat presidents in financial management. The responsibility of financial management and the power to sign all cheques is to be given to panchayat development officers (PDO) and Second division assistants.

It is said that the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Department has planned to issue an order in this regard soon. It is said that at a meeting chaired by Additional Chief Secretary of RDPR department a discussion was held on amending the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act 1993 and service matters of Gram Panchayat employees.

As amended in 2006 to the Gram Panchayat Budget and Accounts Rules of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act, the financial affairs of the Gram Panchayat can be managed by the authorities or authorities prescribed by the government.

Such powers are being exercised by the elected head of the local body. Now the president of Gram Panchayat (GP) and PDOs are jointly signing the cheques for employment guarantee, various housing schemes, financial fund, panchayat tax and expenditure. Now the government would exercise the powers conferred on it in 2006 and has planned a new procedure for revoking the President's signature.

According to sources the government has listed two main reasons for withdrawing the signature power given to Gram Panchayat President. Presidents of many Gram Panchayats in the state have fallen into Lokayukta's trap while taking bribes to pay bills for various government projects and programmes. The government has observed that the unnecessary delay in payment of bills in many cases. Since the President is an elected representative and is not responsible for financial affairs, the PDO, SDA are responsible for it. It is said that if the SDA posts are vacant in the panchayats, the GP secretary should jointly sign with the PDO. The RDPR also plans to curtail powers of elected representatives in fixing the tax through E Swathu software, since panchayat meetings are not held within time fixing of tax being delayed. The proposed amendment would give the full authority to PDOs to distribute the E Swathu form to people. A decision was taken in the meeting of the Gram Panchayat members

regarding the issue of license, e-asset (Form-9, 11A, 11B) for the commencement of house, commercial building works, industry, mining, shop, hotel and other commercial transactions within the Gram Panchayat. The RDPR plans to amend the Rules 64 to 70 of the Panchayat Raj Act, the power to issue licenses has been given to the PDOs. It is also suggested to bring it to the attention of the meeting after giving it. It is explained that such action is necessary to avoid delay as Gram Panchayat meetings are not held on time. There are 5,963 gram panchayats in the state with 91,437 gram panchayat members. The issue of curtailing powers is being discussed widely in social media platforms and a section of media also reported that the GO also issued in this regard.

When contacted RDPR Additional Chief Secretary L K Atheeq told this paper that it is still in discussion stage and no order was issued till now. He said the meeting has discussed the bottlenecks in GP administration and asked the higher officers to give a detailed

report to solve the problems. He clarified that the amendment should be done at government level and it would take lot of time.

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