Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said the cabinet has decided to bring major administrative and financial reforms in the state government departments.

Addressing the press following a special cabinet meeting, Sarma said that the cabinet has decided to implement recommendations from the Jatin Hazarika committee, also known as Assam Administrative Reforms Commission, 2005, and announced the creation of a new department to uplift and preserve faith and culture of tribal communities.

The new department will be known as the Department for Indigenous Faith and Culture and will be an independent department. The functioning of the department will commence from the day the upcoming state budget will be implemented.  

“The indigenous and tribal communities have their language, culture and religious belief. But without any support from the government and due to their financial backwardness, they can’t make donations to preserve their culture. We (the government) have decided to create this department to preserve their culture and heritage,” said Sarma.

In a bid to ease the cumbersome process of budget and proposal sanction for a departmental scheme and projects, the special cabinet decided to increase the efficiency of the government by bringing financial and administrative reforms and making the quick movement of files.

“Earlier, the process was long and it used to go to various tables for the scheme approval and budget sanction. Now, we are going to bring fundamental change in the system,” he said.

He said that for projects and scheme up to Rs 2 crore, a department committee headed by a Commissioner will have the power to approve the proposal. “There is no need to approach the Finance department for this,” he added.

For a project and scheme between Rs 2 to 5 crore, a Standing Finance Committee headed by the Chief Secretary will approve the proposals every Friday.

Likewise, in a project and scheme between Rs 5-Rs 100 crore, a Special Standing Finance Committee headed by the Finance Minister will approve the proposals every Thursday. In this committee, the concerned department’s Commissioner will be made Member-Secretary.

“For a proposal beyond Rs 100 crore, the department will directly approach the cabinet. There is no need to go from table to table. The cabinet will approve it,” Sarma said.

He said that the government will initiate the Desk Officer system wherein the files related to the subject matter will be put up by an officer above the rank of Deputy Secretary. Hinting to implement some recommendations of the Jatin Hazarika committee, he said, “By introducing this desk officer system, at least 10-12 tables will be freed… By doing this, we will be able to invest more time in monitoring and supervision of the departmental activities.”

The Jatin Hazarika committee in their report said, “The files, papers, etc. related to a subject are processed and put up by an officer – the Desk Officer– who is an Under Secretary, a Deputy Secretary or a Joint Secretary. This system can speed up the movement of files by cutting the levels of decision-making and making the entire process more efficient. The Desk Officer can also take the lead role and facilitate the decision process on complex, multi-dimensional subjects, where wider consultations and getting opinions of many are desirable.”

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