GoAP presents fiscal status, issues clarification on APSSB, TAH scams

Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, Aug 9: Reeling under criticism, the state government on Sunday presented the fiscal status vis-à-vis the expenditure incurred in Covid-19 management over the last five months, and presented the progress of the investigations into the Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board (APSSB) scam and the Trans-Arunachal Highway (TAH) land compensation scam.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu had on Wednesday assured that his government would hold a press briefing to present the expenditure incurred in Covid-19 crisis management, and that it would provide an update on the status of the APSSB job scam and the TAH land compensation scam.

Briefing the media here on Sunday afternoon, Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar stated that the government “is committed both for the management of Covid pandemic and the development of the state.”

Outlining the financial status of the state, the CS informed that “the state’s own resources contribute only 10-15 percent of our total finance, while devolution of taxes by the government of India contributes around 85-90 percent.” He added that the government tax collection has been badly impacted due to the global economic slowdown and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Against the share of central taxes estimated in the BE 2019-20 of the union government to the tune of Rs 11,571.10 crore, the state government has received Rs 8,987.57 crore during the financial year of 2019-20, which is less by Rs 2,583.53 crore with 22.40 percent shortfall,” the CS said.

“During the last four months, we received Rs 3,097.76 crore against the anticipated Rs 3,943.32 crore, leaving a gap of Rs 845.56 crore, which has led to 22 percent shortfall in our resources,” Kumar said.

However, the CS claimed that, despite the financial constraints, Arunachal was “perhaps among the few states which tried not to reduce the circulation of money and was able to release the salaries of government employees, contingency staffs and pensioners. There has been no delay in releasing their payment.”

The CS said that “the government has released four months’ CFY of Rs 2,800 crore for salary and wages, pending un-encashed cheques of Rs 495 crore of last year, LoC authorization of Rs 447 crore of last year, and Rs 1,302 crore to various department through the public financial management system, despite financial constraint.”

On the Covid-19 crisis management expenditure, the chief secretary said that an expense of approximately Rs 120 crore has been incurred so far, including for procurement of equipment and sanitizers. He said that, under the SDRF, Rs 19.17 crore was released to the deputy commissioners across the state. “Apart from that, Rs 38 lakhs was allotted to the PHE department for the DCHC, Midpu, and Rs 25 lakhs allotted for transportation of the returnees,” Kumar said.

He also informed that, “under the National Health Mission (NHM), Rs 19.28 crore and Rs 21.75 crore have a liability for the management of and control of Covid-19.”

To fill the existing gap in human resource in the health sector, 400 staff nurses have been engaged under the NHM within the last two months; for 137 posts of junior specialists, the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) has received 110 applications; and 64 GDMOs will be recruited through the APPSC, the CS said.

The government also furnished detailed information on the expenditure made from the chief minister’s relief fund.

The total expenditure is approximately Rs 15.23 crore, “which includes disbursement of Covid management in the districts, supply of essential commodities, mobilization of Covid task forces, financial assistance to stranded people, making the state quarantine centre in Lekhi operational, etc,” Kumar informed.

Providing an update on the APSSB job scam, the chief secretary said the special investigation cell (SIC) has so far arrested 18 persons involved in the scam surrounding the LDC, JSA and other posts, and three persons have been arrested over the UDC posts scam. He said “the government has issued memos to both officers of central service and state civil service who were involved in the scam.”

“We are preparing a chargesheet, which would be shared with the home ministry, so that they would take final action. On the both sides – the criminal action and administrative side – both are moving,” the CS said.

However, he did not disclose the findings of the two-member high-level inquiry committee.

On the TAH compensation scam, the chief secretary informed that the SIC has registered two cases: the Joram-Koloriang case and the Potin-Bopi case.

“Chargesheet will be filed soon against all the accused,” Kumar said.

The CS informed that “recovery notices were served for Rs 42 crore for Package-I and till date Rs 2.56 crore has been made through serving of notice. The recovery proceedings have been initiated under the deputy commissioner, ADC and EAC (highway), and non-payment of recovery of Package-I has been slightly delayed due to Covid-19.”

He informed that a team has been formed to expedite the investigation. “Fake and forged beneficiaries are being brought in for questioning, and legal action would be taken against them,” Kumar said.

The CS was accompanied by Finance Commissioner Prashant Lokhande, Home Commissioner Kaling Tayeng, Health Secretary P Parthiban, Planning Secretary Himanshu Gupta, APSSB Secretary Santosh Kumar, and SIC SP M Harsha Vardhan.