‘Deficiencies mar functioning of Finance Commissions’

Sandeep Joshi

NGO calls for decentralisation at local governance level

NEW DELHI: Highlighting operational deficiencies in the State Finance Commissions (SFCs), a leading NGO — Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) — has called for major improvement in their functioning and decentralisation at the local governance level.

In its recommendations after evaluating the present status of SFCs, PRAI has said the SFCs, and even the Central Finance Commission (CFC), should be permanent entities like other Constitutional commissions so that their efficiency and utility are enhanced.

“More than 16 years after they were constituted under the 73rd Amendment Act, 1992, for strengthening panchayats and municipal bodies, operational deficiencies still mar the functioning of SFCs,” said PRAI, an international centre for learning and promotion of democratic governance. It also highlighted the need for timely submission of reports to the CFC, besides calling for prompt action on recommendations with a timely tabling of action taken reports. “Although SFCs are supposed to have dedicated staff, it has often been noticed that several months are wasted in providing them with the required manpower, and there is also lack of a standard framework that could guide their constitution and composition. Due to lack of permanent secretariats in most of the SFCs, the secretary-level officials of State governments are often assigned additional charges for SFC. Their engagement in other positions restricts them to spend quality time with the SFCs, thus affecting their efficiency,” says PRAI President Rajesh Tandon. As far as SFC reports are concerned, both the quality and time of submission is poor, with many SFCs getting extensions for this purpose.

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