Corruption in Central Government Schemes – where is the accountability, and what is the economic loss ?

In recent times, there has been a spate of news about wastage of funds from Central Government schemes. The Government has discovered the need to ensure that there is a lot of spending with regard to poverty alleviation in order to ensure that it seems to connect with the ‘aam admi’. Given the huge amount of funding that the Government is spending on these schemes, it is fair to assume that there will be a lot of leakage from such schemes (as happens on a number of such schemes, the corruption happens on all levels and money gets leaked such that only a small percentage is received by the desired recipients). So when the Government launched the new scheme called the “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme” to ensure jobs for the rural poor, there was a lot of opinion that the Government is going to launch yet another scheme that leaks money. Now, the scheme seems to have worked to some extent, but the amount of leakage from this scheme is revealed whenever there is any investigation. There is no real provision for any sort of accounting in the scheme that would be effective in reducing the leakage, and investigations by the CAG, by many NGO’s, and statements by the courts all show that the amount of money leaking is high. Consider the following article (link to article):

“Agra ke Taj Mahal se Dilly ke Lal Kila tak Sampark Marg.” According to records, this is one of the projects undertaken under NREGS, for which over Rs 1 crore was spent during the last financial year. But inquiries have revealed that there is no such project on the ground. The matter came up during Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain Aditya’s recent visit to Varanasi.
According to the Management Information System (MIS), which records all activities under NREGS almost on real-time basis, there were 10 job cards issued under this project, which was being executed in Corute village that falls under Arajiline block in Varanasi district.

Such fraud happens often enough at different locations, and there are also allegations by many of the rural poor that there is gross manipulation of the scheme by the governing authority.
And now there are statements by the economic advisors to the Government that the Government is running into financial problems, and recommending against any reduction in excise duties, and even slow-down of refunds of income taxes. But one would argue that if the Government was serious about doing proper financial control, then it would have done a lot more to reduce the leakage of finances from such schemes, and now reached such a situation. If you consider the 2G scam, or if you consider the spending on the Commonwealth Games, one is horrified about the extent of funds that are wasted, or taken through corruption. The Government is not serious about cost control; it is willing to increase the amount of petrol by 5 rupees at one go, but not willing to reduce the amount of excise charged on petrochemicals.

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