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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Suspicious diversions

Friday, 11 August 2017 12:07
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Non utilization or partial utilization of funds sanctioned by the Union Ministries for implementing various national level developmental schemes and programmes is not something for which our State has to be singled out. There are other states where such a situation can arise, or has indeed happened. But what appears to be exclusive to our State is the government's penchant for diverting funds from one sector to another without justifying such diversion. No wonder this often creates fissures between the actual recipient department or agency and the State Finance Department. Additionally, any national level scheme or project, which our State is also expected to implement, generally carries with it detailed guidelines that are almost mandatory. The reason for the Union Ministries to predicate the scheme with guidelines is that these should account for common national level of development and the implementing agency should have the technical and administrative know-how that would yield optimum results. It has been generally observed that our State does not play fair with these guidelines and in almost all proposed schemes the State seeks amendments or revision for one reason or the other. If the reasons are cogent, these should be considered to facilitate the State government to do justice to the project in hand. But the impression of the civil society here is that, more often than not, amendments sought by the State government are politically rather than administratively motivated. Actually, the difficulty with the State is that it is not geographically, topographically, culturally and linguistically a homogenous entity. Along with it, economic levels also carry overwhelming divergence. A popular government has the compulsion of reaching all sections of society, more particularly the deprived and limping segments. That compulsion being the driving force, the State administration would want re-assessment of the mandatory guidelines. However, this defence of the posture of the State government cannot be admitted in all situations. What is hurting the stakeholders is arbitrary diversion of allocated funds from one sector of expenditure to another sector and that too without producing convincing justification. What can be the compulsions of the department concerned to do the unwanted act? Clearly doubts can be raised and aspersions can be cast. The case in point is of the National Health Mission previously known as National Rural Health Scheme. Or the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)! We have regularly lived through agitations by different workers of national schemes, including the NRHM workers and the SSA teachers. The NRHM workers, SSA teachers, Hindi teachers, agitating against non payment of salaries are not uncommon to us; it is a regular annual feature in this part of the world. We have lived through agitating workers alleging that the reasons for non release of their salaries were diversion of funds, and the State government flatly denying such charges. Whatever may be the case, it is apparent that something is very wrong with the functioning of the Government here, and perhaps the cumulative result of this irresponsible manner of functioning, in which the health sector or the education sector, have been exposed to starvation, has reportedly been taken very seriously by the fund provider agency. Clearly the onus for the situation has to be borne by the State government and its agencies particularly the department concerned, which allegedly has arbitrarily and without any convincing logic opted for transfer of funds to other sectors. No wonder, there is strong resentment from the civil society as diversion of funds is administratively discouraged leading to divisive tendencies. It is hoped that the State government will strongly denounce the trend of diverting funds from one head to which it is allocated after due thought to another head whose credentials for receiving the diverted funds are suspect.


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