Downplaying the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the farm loan waiver scheme, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday claimed that there was “no misappropriation” of funds in the Rs. 52,000-crore farm debt waiver scheme.

Noting that the sample size taken up for audit was too small, he sought a comprehensive audit by the CAG to get a better picture.

“The Centre took the decision and money was sent to banks. Accounts and beneficiary list had been selected by banks under the supervision of RBI and NABARD. Money was directly transferred to accounts. Where is the question of misappropriation?” Mr. Pawar told journalists on the sidelines of the Kharif Conference here.

He was reacting to the CAG report on the Agriculture Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008. In the report, the CAG observed that several ineligible farmers were favoured and a large number of deserving small and marginal farmers were left out. It also said RBI and NABARD did not independently monitor the lending institutions in the implementation of the scheme as they were supposed to do.

Mr. Pawar, however, did not rule out the possibility of exclusion of eligible farmers and inclusion of non-eligible farmers in the beneficiary list prepared by banks.

“We have to understand out of 3.7 crore accounts, CAG has taken sample of 90,576 accounts. That means 0.25 per cent accounts have been audited. With such a big scheme announced throughout India, one cannot come to a conclusion with such a small figure. I think I should get more information,” Pawar said adding that the issue should be discussed when significant number of accounts is audited.

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