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Tribal Affairs and Hills Department withdraw scheme funds deposited in bank accounts violating financial rules

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Tribal Affairs and Hills Department withdraw scheme funds deposited in bank accounts violating financial rules

By Khumanthem Dhanachandra
Imphal, Dec 2:

In flagrant violations of financial rules, the Tribal Affairs and Hills Department withdrew scheme funds deposited in the bank. Payment of Rs. 30.36 crore could not be verified due to the non-availability of records, vouchers, and APRs, which points towards doubtful expenditure and suspected misappropriation of funds.
As per Rule 22 and Rule 26 of the General Financial Rules (GFR), 2017, expenditure without sanction by the competent authority is not allowed, and expenditure must be incurred by ensuring adequate control mechanisms to detect errors and irregularities in the financial proceedings.
Further, Rule 205 of the Central Treasury Rules (CTR), as adopted by the Government of Manipur, reads with Rule 77, ibid., that expenditures are to be made through a voucher duly acknowledged by the payee, and all monetary transactions should be entered in the cash book. Rule 290 of the CTR provides that no money shall be drawn from the Treasury unless it is required for immediate disbursement. The Government of Manipur, in its order dated March 13, 2008, banned the holding of funds by departments outside the government account unless specifically permitted by the Finance Department. Any violation of these instructions will invite action under the Manipur Public Servants’ Personal Liability Act, 2006.
During the scrutiny of records of the Directorate of Tribal Affairs and Hills for the period from April 2017 to March 2020, it was found that the Directorate, in violation of government instructions and provisions of GFR/CTR, withdrew (August 2017 to July 2019) scheme funds amounting to Rs. 32.71 crore from the Treasury and deposited (August 2017 to July 2019) the funds into its bank account.
During the period of August 2017 to July 2019, the Directorate of Tribal Affairs and Hills withdrew Rs 28.61 crore without any sanction of the Head of Department (HOD) from the government account and deposited it into its bank account in violation of Rule 22 and Rule 26 of the GFR, 2017. The entire fund was withdrawn during August 2017 to July 2019 jointly by the Director and the DDO from its bank account through 62 self-cheques for amounts ranging from Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 100 lakh and showed them as disbursed as advance payment in the check register against various construction works of buildings and inter-village roads. The details of the money withdrawn were not recorded in the cash book or kept in the cash chest. Moreover, there were no traces of bills, vouchers, payee receipts, etc., in support of the payment made or the parties that had actually received the amount.
Under the Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) for the year 2018–19, the Government of India released Rs 3.00 crore for the promotion of backyard poultry to 600 beneficiaries in 10 hill districts of Manipur. Out of the 600 beneficiaries, 372 were to be selected by the beneficiary screening committee and 228 by the six ADCs.
In March 2019, the DDO of the Directorate withdrew Rs. 3.00 crore from the government account against the administrative approval and expenditure sanction and deposited the amount into its bank account. Moreover, in July 2019, an amount of Rs. 1.00 crore was withdrawn from its bank account, but the same was not recorded in the cash book, nor were APRs in support of payments made to the beneficiaries or implementing agencies available with the DDO.
It was further observed that no further withdrawal of funds for the backyard poultry scheme was made until September 2020, indicating that the poultry scheme of 2018–19 had not been implemented in the hill districts of Manipur even after two years since the assistance to TSP was released.
In March 2018, a financial assistance of Rs. 109.99 lakh was sanctioned by the Government of Manipur for providing medical treatment to 1564 tribal beneficiaries, but the Directorate withdrew Rs. 185.21 lakh against the sanction of Rs. 109.99 lakh from its common bank accounts for providing financial assistance towards providing medical treatment to selected beneficiaries.
It is evident that payments worth Rs. 31.89 lakh and Rs. 43.33 lakh were made through e-payments or checks, for which details were available. Further, details of funds distributed to 504 beneficiaries by cash, amounting to Rs. 34.78 lakh, were also available; however, for the balance of Rs. 75.22 lakh, withdrawn in cash for the same purpose, no details of disbursements were recorded in the cash book of the Directorate, nor was the amount available in the cash.
Thus, in the absence of documentary evidence of payments, it is not known where the remaining amount of Rs. 75.22 lakh withdrawn for the medical treatment of beneficiaries was kept or spent and for what purpose.
Keeping scheme funds outside government accounts is a gross violation of financial rules. Further, the withdrawal of scheme funds amounting to Rs. 30.36 crore from its bank account during the period from August 2017 to July 2019 by the department without maintaining any documentary evidence of custody of cash and subsequent disbursements was irregular. It was not known where the money was lying, how it was spent, or to whom it was paid.
In the absence of such vital records in support of the expenditure made and duly received by the concerned parties, incurring expenditure was doubtful, and misappropriation of the scheme funds cannot be ruled out.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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