State governments are to blame for non-utilization or diversion of central (government) funds meant for educating scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India said in a report tabled in Parliament on Friday.
“Money is not the problem, implementation is,” said B.K. Chattopadhyay, additional deputy comptroller general of India. Chattopadhyay did not say whether this was the result of corruption or plain inefficiency. “We have just conducted a performance audit,” he added.
CAG is a statutory body that audits the accounts of the Centre and the states.
Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are groups of people classified as backward in the country’s Constitution, and hence considered deserving of assistance.
“Deficiencies such as poor utilization of funds, non-availing of the benefits of schemes by different states, imbalances in the release of funds, unspent balances, delays in the release of funds and diversion of funds et cetera were observed across most schemes,” the CAG report said.
The audit was conducted by checking the records of a dozen schemes of the ministry of social justice and empowerment, the ministry of tribal affairs and implementing agencies during 2006-07.
Sumitra Mahajan, a Lok Sabha member of the Bharatiya Janata Party who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment, said the performance of the channelling agencies that route central funds to the states leave much to be desired.
“We have found the funds take too long to reach the districts from the state capitals, even after the states have received them from the Centre,” she said.
“Similarly, the fund utilization reports don’t reach the Centre on time. Due to this, the next instalments get delayed. This inefficacy of the channelling agencies is atleast as much a problem as wilful diversion of funds,” Mahajan added.
The CAG report said dropout rates among scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students had increased in the pastfive years.
In a separate report on the functioning of 65 commercial wings in the 18 Indian missions and posts abroad, CAG found only 2% of the total expenditure of Rs337 crore was spent on trade promotion between 2001-02 and 2005-06. As much as 75% was spent on administrative costs.