Central Govt Used Funds Meant for Pension Schemes to Publicise its Other Schemes: CAG Audit
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has found that the Union Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) diverted funds meant for the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) for publicity purposes of some of its other schemes.
The information was revealed in the CAG report on the performance auditor of the NSAP from 2017-18 to 2020-21. The report was tabled in Lok Sabha on August 8. The NSAP includes old-age pensions.
“The allocations under NSAP to the states/ UTs were meant for disbursal of pension under various sub-schemes of NSAP. Out of the total allocation to a state/ UT, three per cent fund was meant for administrative expenditure. During the audit, instances of diversion of funds by ministry and states/ UTs out of allocated funds for NSAP were noticed,” the report said.
The report highlighted that in January 2017, MoRD publicised some of its programmes/schemes through hoardings all over the country. Two amounts, Rs 39.15 lakh and Rs 2.44 crore, were sanctioned for this publicity in June 2017 and August 2017, respectively. The schemes included Gram Samriddhi and Swacch Bharat Pakhawada, among others.
“Work orders were issued to DAVP (Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity) in June and September 2017. Publicity campaigns were to be undertaken in September 2017. The funds for the said campaign were stated to be available under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and were approved by the competent authority to be incurred under the same head; however, audit observed that funds were actually incurred from social security welfare-NSAP schemes,” the report said.
The CAG report noted that despite using the funds allocated for its schemes, no NSAP programme was included in the publicity.
“Hence, planned IEC (Information, Education and Communication) activities under NSAP were not undertaken as envisaged, and funds of Rs 2.83 crore were diverted for campaigning in respect of other schemes of the ministry. Hence, IEC activities intended to create awareness among potential beneficiaries of NSAP could not be taken up even though there was earmarking of funds for IEC activities,” it said.
In its response, MoRD informed the CAG that the "matter had been taken up with the IEC division of the department."
Additionally, the report revealed diversions of Rs 57.45 crore across six states- Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, Goa and Odisha.
"For instance, Central and State share (Rs 42.93 crore) under IGNOAPS was diverted to pay pension under IGNDPS in 2018-19 due to non-availability of funds under IGNDPS in Bihar," it said.
Similarly, National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) funds for 12,347 beneficiaries in Rajasthan were diverted to pay LIC insurance premiums of BPL and Aastha card holders (Pannadhay Jeevan Amrit Yojana) in September and December 2017.
The report also indicated that in 10 states and Union Territories, the allocated funds intended for administrative expenses within the National Social Assistance Program (NSAP), amounting to Rs 5.98 crore, were utilised for expenses that were not permissible between 2017 and 2021. These disallowed expenditures encompassed the disbursement of honorariums, wages, transportation, and similar costs.
As stated by the audit report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), an estimated 4.65 crore beneficiaries annually received pensions for old age, widowhood, disability, and family support during the period spanning from 2017 to 2021.
“The Centre released Rs 8,608 crore per annum on an average during 2017-21. In addition, states and UTs have also allocated Rs 27,393 crore per year on an average during the said period for pension and family benefit,” it said.
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