STATE TIMES NEWS
SRINAGAR: Education Minister Syed Mohammed Altaf Bukhari was given additional charge of the finance ministry on Tuesday, a day after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti axed Haseeb Drabu from the post over his remark that Kashmir was not a political issue, officials said.
A notification signed on behalf of the chief minister said Bukhari, one of the founding members of the PDP, was given charge of the Department of Finance as well as Labour and Employment as an interim measure.
In a related development, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has put in abeyance the Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) System till March 31, 2018, soon after the new incumbent was named.
As per an order issued by the Finance Department “The implementation of Pay and Accounts Office System, rolled out vide Government Order No 43-F of 2018 dated February 8, 2018 is kept in abeyance till March 31, 2018 in the first place.”
“The readiness of stakeholders as well as foolproof technical platform will be reviewed before the rollout of the system early next financial year” the order stated further.
According to a national news agency, former Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu had adamantly held to his view that both e-tendering and PAO system that would dispense with the centuries-old treasury system would have to be implemented now or never.
Hundreds of contractors working for various state government departments including Roads and Buildings, Irrigation and Flood Control and Public Health Engineering, had locked the offices of these departments bringing all developmental works on the hold for nearly a fortnight.
The striking contractors have been demanding their long-pending payments and opposing the e-tendering system on the ground that in the absence of proper system and extensive Internet facility, the shift over to such a system would spell disaster to their profession.
The first order issued by Bukhari putting both the PAO system and e-tendering on the hold for the time being has caused jubilation among striking contractors in both the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region.
Haseeb Drabu was dramatically dropped from the PDP-BJP ministry by the Chief Minister for his statement a few days ago.
“It (JK) is not a political issue as far as I can see. They have been barking up the wrong tree for the last 50 or 70 years by talking about the politics of it; that the political situation has never improved. We seriously need to look at in terms of how it is a society that is in search for itself,” Drabu had said at an event organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi on Friday. Army.
He said the Doklam issue was going on and China has become increasingly assertive.
“We have seen more and more patrolling and transgressions. Activities in Tibet have also increased over a period of years whether it is the quantum of troops or whether it is the number of personnel undertaking the exercises and also the level of exercises,” he said.
The Army also informed the panel that it does not have adequate resources to even undertake the construction of strategic roads near the Sino-India border.
The Vice Chief of Army Staff also referred to daring terror attacks on military installations in Uri, Pathankot, Nagrota and Sunjwan Cantt in Jammu and said the defence forces must get their dues.
“Peace in the neighbourhood has also been slightly affected by the recent incidents in Maldives. Overall, we have a disturbed situation and all the more important is that the defence forces should get their due,” he said.
The Army informed the panel that it had identified 25 projects under the Make in India initiative but there was not adequate budget to support them. “As a result of which, many of these may end up foreclosed.”
On its part, the Parliamentary Standing Committee, headed by BJP MP B C Khanduri, also came down hard on the government for inadequate allocation of financial resources to the armed forces.
“Keeping in view the increasing threat perception, which includes various occurrences of external strife and internal dissidence such as Doklam, increased external activities in Tibet over a year, rampant cross border firing, terrorist activities etc., the current budget is not supportive to the inevitable needs of the Army,” the panel said.
It also expressed concern, saying a whopping 68 per cent of the equipment of the Army is in the vintage category while just about 24 per cent is in the current state, and eight per cent in the state of the art category.
The panel said it took a series of attacks and numerous casualties to delegate financial powers to the Vice Chief to spend Rs 14,097 crore for strengthening ‘perimeter security’.
“But for the attack, it’s quite possible that funds for strengthening perimeter security may not have been sanctioned for quite some time to come,” it said.
It said while the defence ministry has delegated powers to the Vice Chief of the Army to spend a little over Rs 14,000 crore towards security related issues, there is no separate allocation made for it.
“The committee opine that the security of the Nation is paramount and safety of those defending the country cannot be left in a state of abandonment.
“The Forces must be capacitated in maintaining a robust and effective response mechanism to counter emerging threats,” it said.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee also came down hard on the government for delays in carrying out modernisation of the Indian Air Force and the Navy.
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