'No misappropriation of funds in farm debt waiver scheme'
The Minister's comments come in the wake of CAG finding a number of shortcomings in implementation of the scheme.
New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said there was no "misappropriation" of funds under the Rs 52,000-crore farm debt waiver scheme and sought a more comprehensive audit by CAG to get a better picture. Stating that the sample size taken for auditing was "too small", Pawar said audit of "significant" number of accounts should be done by Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
"Government of India has taken the decision and money has been sent to banks. Accounts and beneficiary list has been selected by banks under the supervision of RBI and NABARD. Money has directly been transfered to accounts. Where is the question of misappropriation?" Pawar told reporters here.
The Minister's comments come in the wake of CAG finding a number of shortcomings in implementation of the scheme. It pointed out thousands of beneficiaries were not eligible while those eligible were denied the benefits.
Pawar, however, did not rule out some possibility of exclusion of eligible farmers and inclusion of non-eligible farmers in the beneficiary list prepared by banks.
"We have to understand out of 3.7 crore accounts, CAG has taken sample of 90,576 accounts. That means 0.25 per cent accounts have been audited. With such a big scheme announced throughout India, coming to conclusion with such small figure! I think I should get more information," Pawar said.
He said the issue should be discussed "when significant number of accounts are audited, that will give better result." After receiving the preliminary report of CAG, the Finance Ministry had written to RBI and NABARD that the number of accounts taken for auditing by CAG was not "sufficient" and all accounts should be audited as early as possible, he added.
Pawar said banks can recover money from non- eligible farmers and said the Centre will have to take decision on extending benefits to eligible farmers.
"If suppose those people are not eligible but have got advantage, I am sure banks will recover that money. There are certain farmers, who are eligible but not got advantage. As on today, there is no budgetary allocation but we have to apply our mind. We have to take some view after getting the report."