Meghalaya group demands govt to put Rs 399 cr COVID expense details on public domain
Shillong: Following the recent state government announcement of investing Rs 399 crore for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR), a progressive people’s group, has demanded the government to make the detailed expenditure public within a week.
In its letter to the Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma, TUR organisation has demanded that the government should proactively within a week under section 4 of RTI Act as well as the Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act put it in public domain.
The letter said that the government should furnish detailed breakdown of various expenditure; list of all personnel hired or deputed in Corona duties with their emoluments; all contracts and tender documents of all the procurements, medical and otherwise, carried out for corona crisis; list of all the vendors and suppliers along with the payment details to them; list of all the beneficiaries of Stranded Citizen funds and for cash assistance to labourers, daily wage earners, BPL Families; expenses on publicity and IEC materials, public relations and advertisements to be put in the public domain; all tenders and contracts in relation to the education department from March till date to be put in the public domain; there should be a weekly financial report presented to the citizens of the state on COVID related income and expenditure.
TUR member Angela Rangad, has mentioned, “TUR is afraid that the pandemic is being used by some to indulge in unaccountable financial actions. This crisis cannot be used for corruption and private enrichment.”
The organisation has demanded for transparency and accountability on the Rs 399 crores spent by the government during COVID-19 pandemic.
The organisation has mentioned that the breakup of the expenditure as released by the government and reported in the media raises questions about the funds spent.
The letter reads, “These numbers hide more than they reveal. For instance let us look at assistance to labourers, daily wage earners, BPL Families to the tune of Rs. 51 crores. If we take govt’s figure then approximately 2,42, 857 persons got a cash support of Rs. 2100 each in their bank account. TUR in a survey of unorganized sector workers in Shillong found that very few labourers, daily wage earners, BPL Families have got this cash support. Even if some have got this support, it has been mostly single installment of Rs. 700. We demand that under the Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, government immediately put in the details of beneficiaries and the details of cash support in public domain.”
It also mentions that the statement made by deputy chief minister about the cost of food being provided to people in Corona Care Centres is exorbitantly high. The same seems to be the case for testing kits etc., it alleged.
TUR also expresses that the government shall commit itself to a more transparent, corruption-free and accountable governance. Pandemic is an opportunity to do so.
It is to be mentioned that on October 6, 2020, the Meghalaya government disclosed the expenses made by the government to fight COVID-19.
Deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong during the briefing informed that since March till September Rs 399 crore has been spent. He further gave a breakdown of the Rs 399 with brief figures under the various sections.
According to the government the amount spent were from the following sections:
National Health Mission Rs. 188.9 crore
Director of Health Services Rs. 82.4 crore
Chief Minister Special Grant (CMSG) Rs 14.7 crore
Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) Rs 7.4 crore
Chief Minister’s Relief Against Wage Loss Rs 51 crore
SRWP (MLA Scheme) Rs 15 crore
PMCARES Rs 3.5 crore
District Mineral Fund (DMF) Rs 8.9 crore
State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) Rs 23.7 crore
Urban Affairs dept Rs 3.5 crore
So far the government has been able to clear different bills a total of Rs 251 crore and a remaining of Rs 141 crore is still left to clear. The government also informed that the total assistance received from the Government of India is Rs 48 crore.