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E-Bill system will end ‘rent seeking’ in govt contracts: FM – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said the new Electronic Bill (e-Bill) processing system will stop any possible ‘rent seeking’ in the clearance of dues to contractors or suppliers of government departments.
The e-Bill processing system, which was announced in the Budget, was launched on Wednesday. It will be implemented across all central ministries and departments and suppliers and contractors will now be able to submit their claim online, which will be trackable on a real-time basis.
Speaking at the 46th Civil Accounts Day, Sitharaman said this will ensure end-to-end digitisation and make the payment process transparent by using technology not just within the government departments, but extending the second leg to the citizen’s use.
The e-Bill, she said, will shut even “any small window which is available” for “misuse in terms of rent-seeking”, as a contractor or supplier to the government will be able to file their claims digitally.
“Put your claim with digital signatures, and you do not have to come to government offices. Your payment reaches (to you) as soon as your claim reaches with a digital signature,” Sitharaman said.
The civil accounts officers, she said, have ensured that the common man who works with the government will not have to wait for months, or not even go and meet officials, seeking the release of their dues.
She said that even other countries are taking note of India’s public finance management system (PFMS), which has helped in providing relief directly to the people during the pandemic.
Giving details of the e-Bill system, additional controller general of accounts Dharitri Panda said currently, the claimants are 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 system will provide huge convenience to suppliers and contractors… It will have a shorter bill payment cycle, a more effective audit trail… It will be an effective tool to facilitate uninterrupted government disbursements in pandemic like situations,” she said.
The e-Bill system has been rolled out on a pilot basis in eight ministries. It will be implemented in all ministries and departments in a phased manner in 2022-23.

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