ISGPP-II would support activities to achieve the above-mentioned PDOs through four Key Results Areas (KRAs). In order to take the decentralization agenda forward, the KRAs have been designed with a larger goal of strengthening the GPs within the State of West Bengal. The Phase II of the program is planned with a total estimated expenditure of INR 3,997.22 crore and will cover 3,342 GPs of the state. ISGPP-II will focus on the achievement of the following four Key Result Areas:
In line with the recommendations of fourth State Finance Commission, the State Government of West Bengal (GoWB) is rolling out state wide Performance Based Grant System (PBGS) of devolution of SFC funds, IBRD funds and 10% CFC funds. This incorporates the condition provided by the Central Finance Commission (CFC) for the allocation of the 10% performance based grants to GPs, in the overall PBG system. GPs in West Bengal are set to receive larger amount of funds due to enhanced allocations through CFC (10% Performance grants), funds from SFC (100%) to GPs and IBRD funds flowing to GPs as Performance Based Grants in West Bengal. This is based on the strong evidence from ISGPP-I that PBG allocation systems (with credible and robust Annual Performance Assessments (APAs)), result in remarkable improvements in the functioning capabilities of the local government units.
The main GO related to Performance Based Grants to GP has been attached as Annexure 2 in Volume II of POM. The Supplementary Government Order on Fourteenth Finance Commission –Performance Based Grant has been attached as Annexure 3 in Volume II of POM.
One of the key lessons learned from ISGPP-I is the effectiveness of PBGs to improve local government performance. In ISGPP-I, one of the prime focus was on strengthening the PRI system as a key institutional entity of service delivery and governance. ISGPP-II will support the state government to achieve the objective of establishing an integrated and harmonized PBGS for all GPs. The ISGPP-II envisages the allocation of PBG to all GPs (1000 GPs belonging to the Phase 1 Old category and 2342 GPs belonging to the new category), on the basis of GP’s compliance to the Basic Minimum Condition (BMC), Extended Minimum Condition (EMC) and Performance Score.
It’s important to note that unlike discretionary grants where GPs access the grants without any condition, the PBG will be allocated to GP only on fulfilment of the conditions (BMC, EMC and Performance Score). To access the PBGS, every GP has to go through the process of independent annual performance assessment, which will be done with a prescribed assessment tool and the GP has to meet certain conditions. However, once the PBGs are allocated to GPs, post disbursement, each GP has right to utilize such grants subject having plan for that and subject to some non-permissible activities having social and environmental hazards. In that sense, the actual utilization is untied in nature, only the allocation is subject to compliance of conditions by GPs.
To address the concerns of both fourth SFC and Fourteenth CFC related to the local government finances, the State Government proposes a series of reforms to institutionalize the financial management systems in GPs. The state government plans to improve the local government finances at both policy and implementation levels through efficient expenditure and revenue management, improved financial management systems relating to planning and budgeting, accounting and financial reporting, internal and external audits.
The GPs will be provided support to adopt sound public financial management practices through the statewide roll out of GPMS, WBMS, and GIS. GP employees will be provided support to access the systems in their annual budgeting, planning and utilization of funds through formal learning and mentoring. Provisioning of Personal Digital Assistants(PDA), module for asset management and ease of doing business to all GPs, is further expected to enhance the generation of greater own source of revenue to GPs. Provisioning of access to GPs for system based planning, budgeting and monitoring of funds will strengthen the financial management amongst GPs. Implementation of internal audit system for GP finances and support to ELA for timely completion of external audit of GPs through the ISGPP, are both aimed at greater public finance management. The Government Order for Internal Audit of Gram Panchayats has been attached as Annexure 4 in Volume II of POM.
ISGPP-II has planned core activities that will support the roll out of systems to all 3342 GPs that will facilitate robust financial management of GPs in a sustained manner. Infrastructure and manpower support will be provided to GPs, thereby handholding them for smooth adoption of technology enabled PFM systems.
The State government proposes to address the concerns of fourth SFC, related to human resources to enable GPs to improve service delivery by GPs. This will address the deficiencies in the existing human resource capital vis-à-vis the increasing administrative and service delivery responsibilities of the GPs. ISGPP Cell will support the hiring of core staff of GPs through the recruitment of three key staff positions in the GPs - Executive Assistant (Executive head of the GP), GP Secretary and Civil Engineer (Nirman Sahayak). This support will address a critical and fundamental gap of inadequate HR capacity in the GPs as identified in the report submitted by the fourth SFC. The support will be administered by the ISGPP Cell and will be provided to the Districts through the District Magistrate (DM) office, which are responsible for the recruitment of sanctioned vacant staff positions in the GPs. The support by ISGPP will be limited to the recruitment and onboarding of newly recruited GP staff only. Once recruited, the terms and conditions of employment and remuneration of the staff of GPs will be met by State exchequer and will be guided by the State rules related to appointment, service conditions and termination of GPs staff etc.
The State government identifies plans to strengthen decentralized planning and budgeting mechanisms with participatory and consultative approaches, as a priority task. This would involve enabling the GP citizens to actively participate in the annual planning and budgeting activities conducted in the GPs, through the Gram Sabha and Gram Sansad meetings.
Under ISGPP-II, GPs are being provided a larger share of PBG, which will result in availability of larger untied funds for GPs. For prioritization of local requirements, the ability of GPs to spend the untied grants within the constitutional mandate, has to be further enhanced. The design of ISGPP-II incorporates activities to promote greater participation amongst GP citizens by way of building capacities of GP staff. Formal training and mentoring inputs are aimed at strengthening the capacities of GPs to frame budgets by including local priorities. Systems are being provided to capture number of meetings conducted in GPs, upload of planning and budgeting documents. Focused efforts for enhancement of the financial capabilities of GP staff, participatory budgeting, greater accountability at local levels through processes etc. are aimed at achieving the improvements in decentralized planning and budgeting.