‘Cases of extending benefits to ineligible beneficiaries must be dealt with on top priority’

Considering the serious nature of the observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the gross misuse of the agricultural debt waiver and debt relief schemes, the Reserve Bank of India has asked all scheduled commercial banks and local area banks to undertake a complete verification of the list of beneficiaries with priority being given to areas where indebtedness was high.

The RBI has told them to fix the accountability on those officials involved in the administrative/accounting lapses.

Banks have been asked not to spare the internal auditors and statutory auditors who were responsible for verification, certification, or for passing the claims. They must be identified, and full responsibility fixed at the earliest with no exceptions, the bank said.

“Cases of extending of benefits to ineligible beneficiaries must be dealt with on top priority, and full recoveries as per law must be made to ensure no loss to the exchequer. It will be the personal responsibility of the institutional heads to ensure that such recoveries are effected in full,” the RBI said in a strongly-worded notification to chairmen, managing directors and chief executives of banks.

Stringent action

“All cases of tampering of records or alteration and the like must be identified and scrutinised by higher authority. A decision on each such case in the form of speaking orders must be taken. Stringent action under relevant sections of law against those responsible must be initiated. This would be monitored by the CVOs (chief vigilance officers) of the institutions concerned regularly,” the RBI said.

The apex bank said debt waiver/debt relief certificates must be issued in all eligible cases immediately, and full records of such issuance must be kept ready for inspection.

Banks have also been directed to draw up a list of all eligible beneficiaries who were not extended the benefits. They have also been asked to examine and establish the reasons for the denial of the rightful dues of the eligible beneficiaries. “Action may be initiated in all cases where malafides or carelessness appears likely,” the RBI said.

For effective monitoring of the action being taken , the RBI has asked banks to report it on a monthly basis, latest 7th of every month so that the government would be informed accordingly.

The CAG in a report has pointed out that several ineligible farmers had availed themselves of the benefits under the government’s much- published Rs.52,000 crore farm loan waver scheme.

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