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Will act against officers furnishing false info on schemes: Finance Secy

Letter sent to all Chief Secys of states and UTs said stated that if falsification of information is found, names of All India Service Officers will be passed on to DoPT by Finance Ministry

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subsidy | Expenditure | Finance Secretary

Arup Roychoudhury  |  New Delhi 

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As part of a larger tightening of wasteful in welfare and schemes, T V Somanathan last month wrote to states warning that action will be taken against All India Service officers if they furnish wrong information to the Finance Ministry regarding Centrally Sponsored Schemes.

“It has come to light that, of late, there are some instances where the factual information provided to the centre is wrong in material respects even though certified by competent officers of the state governments, in a manner indicating either falsification or gross negligence,” Somanathan said in his letter dated 21 April.

The letter was sent to all Chief Secretaries of states and union territories and marked to state finance secretaries as well. It said that there was a case where wrong information led to heavy-borrowing by an un-named state during the tenure of one government which led to deduction of the amount when the next government came in.

Somanathan reminded his counterparts in states that as per the All India Services Conduct Rules 3(2B) and 3(3), civil servants are responsible to tender proper and factual advice and are required to sign certificates and provide information in a truthful and correct manner.

The letter stated that if falsification of information is detected, the names of the All India Service Officers will be passed on to the Department of Personnel and Training by the Finance Ministry. The negligence or falsification will go into their service records and will impact their empanelment and deputations.

“The matter may also be taken up with state governments to initiate disciplinary proceedings. In respect of the officers of central services on deputation to state governments, the matter will be brought to the notice of their central cadre controlling authorities for action deemed appropriate by them, including recall from state deputation and/or disciplinary proceedings,” the letter said, adding that minor or bonafide errors will not attract such action.

The letter from Somanathan comes at a time when the Finance Ministry is cracking the whip on inefficiencies in various welfare and schemes. It has asked line ministries and entities responsible for implementing schemes to cut wasteful on an expedited basis, even as the centre faces higher-than-budgeted food and fertilizer burden due to the current geopolitical situation.

On food subsidy front, Food Corporation of India and the Food and Public Distribution department have been asked weed out efficiencies up and down the value chain.

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Similarly, in flagship schemes like Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) and PM Kisan, the relevant ministries have been told to speed up identifying ghost beneficiaries, fake accounts etc. Of particular concern to central policymakers is the fact that the number of NREGA beneficiaries was around 50 million before the Covid-19 pandemic, rose to around 70 million as the economy slumped, but has not come down to pre-pandemic levels.

That apart, the Finance Ministry also plans to cross-check income taxpayer data with data of welfare scheme beneficiaries such as PM Kisan. Such weeding out of bogus accounts and ghost beneficiaries will involve cooperation from state governments as well, officials say.

The Centre has already issued a set of advisory for states to weed out ineligible farmers from the PM-KISAN scheme most of which are cases of having one or more than one family member as a taxpayer.

In case of NREGA too, the Centre has earlier expressed concern earlier over incidents of pilferage in the scheme. Officials believe that Revised Estimates have been higher than Budget Estimates significantly and it could be partly because middlemen are taking money for enrolling names of bogus beneficiaries under the scheme, and that civil servants could also be involved

In case of PM-KISAN, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar few months back said in Parliament that since its launch, it has been found that over Rs 4,350 crore has been transferred to ineligible farmers and that advisories have been issued to states for getting refunds.

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First Published: Fri, May 06 2022. 17:08 IST
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