General Financial Rules
A Task Force was constituted by Ministry of Finance to carry out a comprehensive review of GFRs-2005 and to suggest appropriate modifications duly taking into account recommendations being made by various authorities. It is claimed that besides internal deliberations by the Task Force, extensive deliberations were made with stakeholders including Ministries/Departments, State Governments, etc. The Task Force submitted its draft report on 3rd November, 2016.
NCPEDP examined the document and found that there was no reference to the concerns of persons with disabilities.
Finance Secretary, Ashok Lavasa vide his letter dated 11th November, 2016 had invited comments and views on the draft GFRs-2016 from all the government Ministries and Departments. The deadline was 30th November, 2016. Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (DEPwD) did not contribute to the process.
NCPEDP got to know of all this sometime in December and immediately made an intervention and submitted the same to the Ministry of Finance on 26th December, 2016 (Read here ). Further, NCPEDP submitted a copy of the intervention to DEPwD and continued to follow up and lobby throughout the month of January, 2017. Finally, based on our recommendations, DEPwD sent their comments and suggestions on the draft GFRs-2016 to the Finance Secretary, Ashok Lavasa in February 2017 (Read here )
. Unfortunately, by then the GFRs-2016 had already been finalized!
Although late, DEPwD has made some very good suggestions, such as:
- Accessibility must be made a mandatory criterion when procuring any product or service.
- International Standards such as EN 301549 should be adopted as an Indian National Standard.
- All portals and websites should conform to the latest WCAG standards.
- E-marketplace should conform to the latest WCAG standards and the GeM should be accessible for all users.
- In the purchase/price preference policy, companies setup by disabled people or having a certain number of disabled employees should be given preference.
- The local purchase Committee should include atleast one accessibility expert.
- All Tender Enquires, Requests for Proposals, Requests for Expressions of Interest, etc. should be in accessible formats.
We cannot allow Government of India to continue to procure goods and services without paying any attention to accessibility and in the process continue to cause damage and harm to it’s disabled citizens. This is also expressly against the mandate of the newly passed Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. We therefore demand and are working towards the following two targets:
- That the GFRs-2016 be revised immediately in the light of the recommendations sent by DEPwD.
- The Government e-marketplace particularly needs to be not just accessible but it also needs to call out for accessible products. There should be a separate section for accessible technology.