In contravention to the announcement of Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu in his very first budget speech of the PDP-BJP coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir, the Ministers in present regime utilized more than Rs 144 lakh of Discretionary Grants during the less than two years.
Discretionary Grants of more than Rs 73 lakh were utilized in the financial year 2015-16 while in the ongoing year 2016-17, more than Rs 70 lakh have so far been utilized by the Ministers of this Government, which had announced to abolish this grant for maintaining transparency and eliminating corruption.
Besides Deputy Chief Minister and Cabinet Ministers, even the Ministers of State have utilized this grant, which is supposed to be spent solely on their discretion, without any transparency and accountability.
It may be recalled that the Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, while presenting first budget of this coalition Government in March 2015, had announced to abolish all Discretionary Grants for making Government-public interfaces non-discretionary, criteria based and transparent.
“I don’t believe in an economic policy and management that controls and has discretionary powers. I believe in rule based regulatory management and hence all discretionary grants are abolished,” he had said in the budget speech.
However, contrary to the budget announcement, Ministers of the coalition Government kept utilizing this Discretionary Grant and as per the official records, more than Rs 144 lakh of funds under this category were used during these two years of this Government.
Utilizing Rs 18.75 lakh Discretionary Grants so far, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh tops the list of these Ministers. He made use of Rs 8.75 lakh Discretionary grants in the year 2015-16 and the funds increased to Rs 10 lakh by end of December in the current financial year.
He is followed by G N Lone who used Rs 7.47 lakh of this Grant in 2015-16 and Rs 4.16 lakh in 2016-17. Choudhary Lal Singh utilized Rs 3.32 lakh Discretionary Grants as Health Minister and Rs 2,70 lakh as the Minister for Forest while Bali Bhagat spent Rs 3.55 lakh as Forest Minister and Rs 3.74 lakh as Health Minister.
Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu himself utilized Rs 1.50 lakh as Discretionary grants in 2015-16 and Rs 3 lakh in 2016-17.
Syed Basharat Ahmad Bukhari has so far made use of Rs 3.40 lakh during the current financial year and he utilized Rs 4.15 lakh of this grant in 2015-2016. Imran Raza Ansari utilized Rs 4.40 lakh in 2015-16 and Rs 3.95 lakh in 2016-17, under the Discretionary Grants.
Sukhnandan Choudhary, as then Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, utilized Rs 3.74 lakh of this fund while his successor Sham Choudhary has used almost equal amount of the grant in this financial year.
Syed Mohd Altaf Bukhari, then Minister R&B, utilized Rs 4. 10 lakh Discretionary Grant in 2015-16 while Chander Parkash Ganga spent Rs 3.74 lakh of this fund in 2015-16 and Rs 2.49 lakh in 2016-17. Abdul Haq Khan utilized Rs 5.48 lakh, A R Veeri Rs 4.11 lakh, Chering Dorjey Rs 7.30 lakh, Choudhary Zulfkar Rs 6.79 lakh, Abdul Gani Kohli Rs 6.25 lakh and Sajjad Gani Lone Rs 2.80 lakh,
MoS Priya Sethi utilized Rs 2.25 lakh Discretionary Grants in 2015-16 and Rs 2.40 lakh during the current financial year while Sunil Sharma used Rs 2.50 lakh in 2015-16 and Rs 2.25 lakh in 2016-17. Pawan Gupta, as then MoS, utilized Rs 0.75 lakh in 2015-16 while Ajay Nanda used Rs 1.75 lakh in this financial year