Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that direct benefit transfer (DBT) through the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) has touched ₹34-lakh crore. Meanwhile, Finance Secretary TV Somanathan has called for all government departments on e-bill platform.

“The DBT mechanism, facilitated through PFMS, has led to the transfer of ₹34-lakh crore from the government. This is a testament to the system’s effectiveness in eliminating inefficiencies and ensuring that the benefits are delivered directly to the citizens without any leakages,” Sitharaman said in her message, read out by Finance Secretary at the Civil Accounts Day event here. It may be noted that the government has managed to save over ₹2.73-lakh crore (as on March 31, 2022) through DBT.

Robust IT platform

PFMS, which is developed and implemented by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) under the Department of Expenditure, provides modules for end-to-end digital payments, collection of receipts, accounting, reconciliation, and financial reporting. Besides, it has also been providing a robust IT platform for more effective cash management in the Central Government system through ‘Just in time’ transfer of funds and complete tracking of realisation of funds from its release to its credit into the bank account of intended beneficiaries.

As on date, DBT is used for over 1,000 schemes, Central and States together, through PFMS, “As we embark on the journey towards becoming a ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047, hope that the CGA and ICAO continue to work towards enhancing the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of our financial administration through innovative and people-centric approaches,” Sitharaman said.

Later in his address, Somanathan said bill payment efficiency has been taken up as a top priority item by the CGA as a result of which the efficiency has substantially improved. “More than 450 Pay and Accounts Offices have been onboarded on the e-bill module. I would like you to move towards complete end-to-end implementation of e-bill system in the government so that this (payment efficiency) can be improved further,” he said.

E-bill system

Prior to the launch of the e-bill system, vendors or contractors were required to submit physical copies of bills to the departments for scrutiny. With the e-bill initiative, claimants would be able to submit digitally signed bills on the PFMS and check status without approaching offices.

The e-bill processing system was launched on March 2, 2022. It is being implemented across all central ministries and departments, which enables suppliers and contractors to submit their claim online and track them on a real time basis. He said pay and accounts officers should monitor instances of delays and wherever delay occurs should be examined for corrective actions.

“As we contemplate the future, there is an ongoing requirement for monitoring cyber security. The country faces increasing cyber security threat at all levels, and we cannot afford to drop our guard. These tasks and others will persist,” Somanathan said, adding that there was a consensus on the need to restructure the Civil Accounts Service cadre.