`MNREGA funds being siphoned off at local levels`
Bangalore: A Planning Commission member on Tuesday acknowledged that a portion of funds allocated under MNREGA was being siphoned off at local levels and advocated the need for drafting third party, independent monitors to ensure that the money is well utilised.
Speaking at an international conference on public policy and governance here, Planning Commission member B K Chaturvedi said about Rs 40,000 crore was being spent on MNREGA every year by government.
However, there is criticism that money is being siphoned off since `kutcha` construction is also part of works taken up under the scheme, with funds available with village pradhans and functionaries (for disbursal), he said.
The former cabinet secretary told the conference jointly organised by the Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Public Affairs Centre, that enormous benefits have accrued from MNREGA, but "on the other hand, it has also led to this (siphoning off)".
Social auditing has not been able to stop this as "social auditing is as good as the auditor," Chaturvedi said, adding, third party, independent monitors were needed.
With this, "There is at least a fear that you are likely to get caught (for siphoning off). While such a mechanism will not be able to fully prevent the siphoning off, it will certainly ensure that most of the funds are well-utilised," Chaturvedi said.
The Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana is well-designed and has done very well because there are three levels of monitoring -? state, district and central -? leading to very few complaints, he said.
"Governance will have to improve enormously", he said in the context of implementation of central government projects and schemes.
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