Officials maintaining funds in personal accounts

Substantial sums allocated to the State under Centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) are being reportedly handled in a lackadaisical manner.

Finance Department sources told The Hindu here that the declining share in Central transfers, hence, could not be monitored effectively and optimum utilisation of the available funds had become a rare possibility too.

For instance, the funds provided for national programmes by departments such as Health and Agriculture were being left at the disposal of officials sans proper monitoring, accounting or auditing.

This had given scope for misappropriation and also tardy execution of the schemes.

CSS provision

The provision of the CSS for depositing the sanctioned funds in nationalised banks had come in handy for the officials and it had never been deposited in the treasury.

The accounts were being operated by the programme officers concerned as individual and not joint accounts.

Lack of access to details

Quite often, the Accountant-General or the office of the AG did not get access to the details of the funds at the disposal of the implementing officers. Thus grave irregularities often escaped the notice of even the department heads.

While certain officers tend to surrender the unspent balance to the parent department, many others maintained it in their personal accounts and often it went untraced.

Since the officials in charge got transferred time to time or retired from service, they did not become answerable for the lapses in execution or absorption of funds.

On detection, such cases end up in prolonged departmental inquiries and none would be held responsible, the sources said. The onus was on finance officers of each department to monitoring the execution progress and fund utilisation.

Onus on finance officers

A Government Order issued on May 6, 1992, had specified that monitoring the progress of departmental revenue and expenditure, giving directions to keep the expenditure within the allotments, settlement of the CSS, and reporting deviations from rules were some of the prime responsibilities of the finance officers.

The heads of departments were bound to abide by their advice and the former would have to specify reasons for overlooking their suggestions.

They were also empowered to directly take up with the government cases of irregularity in financial administration. Quite often, the finance officers were reluctant exercise their powers and the irregularities went unchecked.

The sources said a recommendation of the Kerala Public Expenditure Committee to constitute a cell for reviewing the CSS had still not been implemented.

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