The cash-strapped finance department of the Punjab government has asked all government departments across the state to curtail their power bills, especially of outstation offices in districts, tehsils, blocks and panchayats.
The finance department has rolled out instructions to all departments to cut unnecessary expenditure on the purchase of vehicles and hiring of drivers.
It was also clarified that no hike in power bills would be allowed this year in comparison to the previous bills, as there was no hike in the power tariff. There had been zero hike in the tariff announced by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) on May 5.
Finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa told HT that the annual power bills of government offices across the state ran into hundreds of crores. “Every year, the expenditure on the bills is increasing, any increase this year doesn’t make sense as there is no hike in the power tariff,” he added. He clarified that unjustified power bills of departments would not be reimbursed.
“We can’t curtail mandatory expenditure such as salaries and pensions, but expenditures such as power bills can be brought down or at least controlled,” he added.
The finance minister also said that instructions had been rolled out to do away with the system of hiring drivers to drive official vehicles. “The salary of a government driver is eating into government expenditure, so we are offering fixed per-kilometre cost to government servants, including ministers, to hire their own drivers, buy their own cars, and they would be paid a fixed amount,” Dhindsa said.
According to an estimate by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), bills running into several crores are pending with various government departments.
No recruitment without dept approval
The finance department has issued a directive to all departments, deputy commissioners and divisional commissioners not to make any recruitment without following the proper procedure for the creation and revival of posts and seeking approval from the finance department.
Taking notice of recruitments being made by some departments without following the proper procedure of reviving and creating posts as per directions of the finance department, an official spokesperson said detailed instructions had already been sent to all heads of departments, boards and corporations to not initiate the recruitment procedure, especially to group ‘C’ and ‘D’ posts, without the prior approval of the finance department.
The spokesperson also said that if any recruitment was made in contravention of the directions issued, the head and administrative secretary of the department concerned would be held responsible.