Twenty of the government's 32 financial advisors, from across various ministries and departments, are headed for a week-and-a-half-long training to Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy in North Carolina, United States, and then at the Duke campus in Washington DC. This is part of a 15-day training programme, which will take place in two batches.
The first batch of eight financial advisors will be in the US from August 13 to 21. A similar training programme will be held for a batch of 12 financial advisors from August 27, said a finance ministry spokesperson.
The sessions in Duke-Sanford will be on topics such as fiscal policy and management, public expenditure, investment, managing capital spending, public-private partnerships, budgeting, outcome- and performance-based budgeting, mergers and acquisitions, cash management and function of the treasury.
After a week at Duke-Sanford, the officials will visit Washington DC on August 20 and 21 and will attend sessions conducted by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials. They will also visit the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the US' equivalent of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
The spokesperson told Business Standard that proper arrangements of link charges have been made, ensuring that the work of the officer in training is looked after by the financial advisor of another department so that it is not affected at all.
The financial advisors of various departments are mostly drawn from the Indian Administrative Service, but also from the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Indian Postal Service, Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Railways Accounts Service and Indian Post & Telecommunication Accounts & Finance Service.
According to information on the website of the Finance Ministry's expenditure department, there are currently 36 posts for financial advisors in the central government, with four of them vacant. The advisors are governed by the The Government of India (Consultation With Financial Advisor) Rules 1968.
A financial advisor is responsible for work related to the finance, budgeting and accounts of the department to which she or he is appointed. The advisor also has to be consulted on funds being released to state-owned companies under the concerned department.
All proposals for the sanction of grants-in-aids, including scholarships, and loans have to be referred to the advisor before being cleared. Contracts, purchases by the departments, and fixing the prices of commodities that are directly traded by a department are also decided in consultation with the advisor. Any serious contravention of financial rules, deviation or relaxation of financial norms and any case of abandonment or write-off also has to be investigated by the advisor.
Some of the departments that have a financial advisor include telecom, railways, defence, space and atomic energy, commerce, information and broadcasting, law, petroleum, health, consumer affairs, railways, external affairs, labour, steel, rural development, power, civil aviation, power, finance and others.
This copy has been revised and corrected