GUWAHATI, June 21 - The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) in its meeting held on June 15 last in Washington DC, USA approved a loan assistance of $44 million (Rs 283 crore) for the Assam State Public Finance Institutional Reforms (ASPIRe) Project.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressed sincere gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi for supporting this ambitious project and facilitating the approval.
As the name suggests, this project aims to improve the predictability and transparency in budget execution and efficiency in tax administration in Assam. While all government departments and functionaries � especially finance, taxation and excise departments � will benefit immensely due to this project, the citizens of Assam will also see transformative benefits accruing to them through efficient processes, better service delivery such as electronic payments and collections for services, transparent public procurement and enhanced tax payer services.
Reduction in the share of discretionary expenditure in the last quarter of financial year, public access to key budget execution reports and procurement contracts, and reduction in cost of collection of tax revenue in taxation and excise departments are the core objectives of this project.
The ASPIRe project is based on three important components that act as pillars for institutional reforms. The first component focuses on �strengthening public finance institutional capacity�. This component not only includes systemic reforms but also capacity building of the officials who run the systems. �Strengthening expenditure and revenue information systems� is the second component of the project. For a smooth and easy execution of the first two components, and to create a sustainable impact, a third component on �project management, monitoring and evaluation, and coordination� is also included in the project.
It is expected that by the end of this project, the common citizen will be able to access all the budget execution reports and public procurement contracts in public domain. Further, one of the objectives of the project is to ensure that a large majority of non-GST taxes are collected electronically and that the citizens will be able to file tax returns for non-GST taxes online. Also, it is expected that the excise revenues, which will also be electronically collected, will go up substantially from the existing Rs 800 crore as leakages will be plugged to a large extent.