Attempt to divert SC/ST welfare funds as ‘deemed expenditure’ continues

Attempts to divert funds meant for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes welfare in the State under the “deemed expenditure” clause continues to be a bone of contention in Karnataka.

While the State Government diverted funds for purposes other than welfare of SCs/ STs last year, top government sources said that attempts are being in the same direction this year too. This comes even as the Social Welfare Department opposed diversion made in 2020-2021 by the Finance Department.

In the midst of severe financial crunch following the lockdown in March/April/May in 2020, the State Government had diverted over ₹5,000 crore from different departments citing the “deemed expenditure” clause though the Karnataka Scheduled Castes Sub Allocation and Tribal Sub Plan (Planning, Allocation and Utilisation of Resources) Act, 2013, does not allow such bulk transfers.

At a review meeting recently, the Social Welfare Department refused to accept deemed expenditure to a tune of 75% of the allocated amount to the Water Resources Department for the previous fiscal, and asked it to spend the pending amount on the welfare of SCs/STs. “There are overt attempts being made to divert funds this year too. Such requests were made in the meeting,” an official privy to the developments in the meeting said. He said that the “deemed expenditure” clause can be cited only in those expenditures that cannot be divided specifically. “Even when deemed expenditure is calculated, it is only a portion of the larger expenditure that can be considered. This cannot exceed 7% as per the guidelines of the Union Government. How can 75% in the Water Resources Department be considered as deemed expenditure? In fact, funds to a tune of ₹1,000 crore is sought to be diverted to fund road projects in PMGSY as deemed expenditure by the RDPR department.”

Speaking to The Hindu, Social Welfare Minister Kota Srinivas Poojary said deemed expenditure cannot be allowed if it is not spent as per guidelines. “In Karnataka, more than 5 lakh SC/ST families do not have homes. The government needs ₹50,000 crore to ensure housing. In such a scenario, deemed expenditure cannot be allowed. We have said either transfer back the money to Social Welfare Department if it is unspent or spend it for the benefit of the community,” he said.

31% spent under SCSP, TSP

Karnataka has reported a progress of about 31% of the total budgetary allocation made in the State to be spent under Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) by various departments. Affected by COVID-19, the progress was just about 20% in 2020-2021.

Data available at the end of September 2021 shows that about ₹5,885.49 crore of the total budgetary allocation of ₹18,331.54 crore or about 32.11% has been spent as part of SCSP while ₹2,200.81 crore of the total allocation of ₹7,673.47 crore or 28.68% has been spent under TSP so far this year.

Official sources said that even 31% progress is far less for the first six months, and at this pace, the State could reach about 70% of the total allocation by the end of the year.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 10:07:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/attempt-to-divert-scst-welfare-funds-as-deemed-expenditure-continues/article37742352.ece

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