Wednesday, January 13, 2010

“kya kare, chalta hai” no no.. you can not eat the cake of social-sector schemes too

An NGO CEO writes about the NGO’s politics and bureaucracy in Indian society, of course it purely private!!

  • It is sad that at the end of 2009, almost 25 years later, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission reiterates that Rajiv Gandhi was right — indicating that over the last 25 years there has been a constant siphoning off of huge amounts of money meant to be spent for the benefit of the poorest of the poor.
  • By most reports, the NREGA scheme has been the most successful of government schemes — what that means is perhaps, not 50 per cent, but a lower amount is being siphoned off. Let’s face it, the scheme is dependent on the Block Development Officer and the sarpanch to identify and confirm the beneficiary before payment is disbursed; what are the checks and balances in place to ensure that a nexus between these two does not lead to siphoning off of funds to non-beneficiary accounts? The BDO post is reportedly being auctioned off for as much as 5 crores these days, giving lucrative police station house officer postings stiff competition.
  • A worthwhile exercise for the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) would be to undertake a state-wide exercise to identify the number of NGOs that are founded by politicians or bureaucrats or through family members or fronts. Ideally, identify where (say) more than 0.5 per cent of the sanctioned funds for any one scheme in a state were sanctioned and then identify the organisations that received the funds. Then depending on the findings, to investigate those organisations where politicians or bureaucrats were involved to see how the funds were spent/disbursed, or at least to show the data on their website for others to study how the funds were actually spent. If these large amounts are being siphoned off it would need people in power to initially authorise the projects to the NGO, and then to sanction the payment to them — which could be fictitious.
  • The shocking truth is that approximately 60 per cent of the central schemes are sanctioned directly to NGOs and social organisations, where the CAG has no purview for an audit (because these funds do not pass through the consolidated fund of the respective state)!
  • The CAG reports go to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which have been known to stall or delay action on these reports. PAC meetings are held in camera. Why hold them secretly? The public should be engaged in the PAC process — when did they receive the CAG report? When and how did they act on it? The need is for transparency here.
  • After years of a public perception that there was a nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and corporates that was responsible for the major corruption in our country, perhaps the new nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and the social sector will reveal corruption at an even bigger level.

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