Sunday, May 9, 2021

Funds misuse

It is disgusting that today providing even basic amenities to common people has become like giving them huge favour. Common masses have a right to live a dignified life, as in a democratic system the government is always claimed to be by the people, for the people and of the people. This definition of any democratic government looks so attractive but on the ground things are quite in contrast. We know that for a pretty long time on national corruption chart, we are almost on the top. Astonishingly, no one is bothered about this disgraceful tag. A few decades earlier such tagging was considered shameful for individuals, while societies would never tolerate such disgrace. Today there is no accountability in the State administration. Accountability rules and procedures are complicated to the extent that seldom does any defaulter find himself in the net of accountability. Add to it the unwillingness of authorities concerned to pursue the cases of defaulters to their logical conclusion. In Nagaland, the paradoxical reality is that the Government has to ‘teach and guide’ its concerned employees who enjoy the powers to deal with the public funds about not to misuse such funds as if this much of basic and hard core fundamental moral principle is needed to be injected into their working culture instead of it being there naturally. To put it in not that polite coating but in simple and pointed form, not to loot public funds. Here it is a fact that our State with its unique geographic location and very little established private sector mostly depends on the State-run economy. So most corruption brews within the corridors of administration and its smaller units down below. Deliberate delay in budgetary allotments and releases for executing developmental schemes and works has become a norm in the administrative setup. In a State where the working season is limited because of climatic condition, the desperation of people is harnessed by the corrupt to their choice. A cursory look will reveal hundreds of people within the administration who have been stationed against all norms and rules and do nothing but create miseries for people and earn a bad name for the administration by delaying financial flow. Quarterly allocations, allotments, releases, utilization certificates, State-share, Central-share and much more are the buzzwords that are frequently used to scare the executing agencies, the beneficiaries and the common people. Agreed, such a scenario cannot be expected to be rife in each and every State department but wherever it is, it needs not to be set right by issuing repeated guidelines and circulars only as to such funds should not be plundered, merely not ‘misused’ as the term denotes either ostentatious expenditures or those ones which were not sure of resulting in public welfare and benefit. Can public money be repeatedly “released” against already restored works and which were running and in good condition? If the findings of some anti-corruption bodies in the State are to be believed, this has and is taking place in some Government departments in the State. Remember the double release of funds for the same works in the some departments some years back. In other words, for the same executed work, complete and functioning, funds or the cost of the project are drawn more than once from the State treasury. If it is not a loot or thieving, what else could it be called? Funds withdrawn in such a fraudulent manner were allegedly misappropriated by the concerned officers and officials. Our people have been stressing on the need to make auditing and inspections as an inalienable part of the functioning of the State departments, but this is not happening for obvious reason. The cost of auditing and series of surprise inspections would be only a small negligible fraction of the amount of frauds and embezzlements taking place in the departments. And it is hilarious that whenever any cases of misappropriation of public funds come to light, the Government’s response is issuing “fresh” guidelines as to how funds should not be misused, as if the ones responsible for the wilful and deliberate goof did not know about the same. The expected outcome from the public is that whenever any misappropriation is exposed the officials should be arrested and put in jail preceded by their services placed under suspension, not issuing of more guidelines which will never be followed.