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India Launches E-Bill Processing System

Image credit: Press Information Bureau

The Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman, recently launched the Electronic Bill (e-Bill) processing system, which is part of the ease of doing business (EoDB) and Digital India ecosystem. It will increase transparency, efficiency, and expedite faceless-paperless payment by allowing government suppliers, vendors, or contractors to submit their claims online, which will be traceable on a real-time basis. The system was developed by the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) Division in the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) office from the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.

In a phased manner over the next two years, the system will be implemented across all central ministries and departments and will make the submitting and backend processing of bills completely paperless. According to a press release, the objectives of the system are to:

  • Make it convenient for government vendors or suppliers to submit their bills anytime, anywhere.
  • Eliminate physical interfaces between suppliers and government officers.
  • Enhance efficiency in the processing of bills and claims.
  • Reduce discretion in bills processing through the first-in-first-out (FIFO) method.

Currently, suppliers of various goods and services to the government have to submit physical, ink-signed copies of their bills to respective government ministries and offices. Similarly, government employees must also submit hard copies of their claims. Suppliers or their representatives often need to visit the offices to deliver bills and, moreover, are unable to track bill processing statuses. Under the e-Bill system, suppliers can upload their bills online, along with supporting documents, using digital signatures. For those that do not have a digital signature, the system also supports the use of Aadhaar cards as authentication. Suppliers will no longer be required to visit government offices for this purpose, the release noted. At the backend as well, the e-bills received will be electronically processed at every stage, and the payments will be credited digitally to the supplier’s bank account. The supplier will be able to track the processing status of their bills online.

The system has been initially rolled out in nine pay and accounting units including the principal account offices of the following ministries and departments:

  • The Ministry of Food Processing Industry
  • The Department of Pharmaceuticals, under the Ministry of Chemical and Fertilisers
  • Department of Science and Technology, under the Ministry of Science and Technology
  • The CGA HQ from the Department of Expenditure, under the Ministry of Finance
  • The PFMS Division from the Department of Expenditure, under the Ministry of Finance
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
  • Census, under the Ministry of Home Affairs
  • The Ministry of Steel
  • The National Informatics Centre, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

The Finance Minister had announced the e-bill initiative in the Union Budget 2022-23, which was presented in Parliament earlier this month. The system was launched as a part of the 46th Civil Accounts Day celebration in the national capital. The event was organised at the Dr Ambedkar International Centre.

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