They seek immediate payment of treasury bills

On the final day of the financial year on Monday, local self-governing bodies led by Mayor A.K. Premajam and District Panchayat president K. Jameela laid siege to the district Treasury office, claiming immediate payment of their pending bills.

Their demands got more strident over the past two days as they claimed that the government refused to honour their work bills owing to a “near empty” State coffer.

“Today is the last day of this financial year. We have Rs.24 crore in pending bills. Our contractors, who have completed public infrastructure works in various panchayats, have turned against us, as we are unable to pay them,” Kanathil Jameela, Kozhikode district panchayat president, said.

The protest started during the afternoon and grew in tempo as evening approached when agitators, mostly local body staffers, councillors from the Corporation and panchayat members, realised that there was no sign of any measures taken to honour the work bills.

Ms. Jameela said the protest would not stop until the Treasury Department took a decision on their grievances.

Trouble had started last week when the Treasury stopped honouring bills, saying advance notice should be given of the payments sought after March 22.

Ms. Jameela said there was no such practice before like giving advance notice. “It is understood that we will have bills to meet by the financial year-end,” she said. Kozhikode Mayor Prof. A.K. Premajam said when she contacted the Treasury Department at the State capital, she was told that a secret circular had been given to stop payments. “This unproclaimed ban affected the working of the local self-governing bodies. Our staffers will not be paid salaries and essential bills will not be honoured just because the government lavished public money on full-page advertisements and programmes like ‘Emerging Kerala’,” she said.

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