After manipulation in Rs 1,000 crore of the National Pension System (NPS), an irregularity in the Employee Welfare Fund has come to light from Rajasthan during Ashok Gehlot's tenure, as per Amar Ujala's report.
An amount of Rs 3,000 crore in the settlement fund of the General Provident Fund (GPF) was supposed to be deposited in the Employee Welfare Fund but has been diverted to reduce the revenue deficit.
The announcement of a Rs 3,000 crore Employee Welfare Fund was made in the budget of 2020-21. The outgoing Gehlot government decided in the meeting chaired by Chief Financial Secretary Akhil Arora on 10 June 2021, that the unclaimed money in the accounts of the GPF would be kept in the Employee Welfare Fund until the account holders claim it.
However, the Finance Department spent money to replenish the revenue deficit instead of depositing it in the Employee Welfare Fund, despite Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) objection. Until October 2023, not a single rupee had been deposited in the Employee Welfare Fund.
As of April 2020, a total of Rs 34,262 crore of 3.91 lakh employees were deposited in the GPF accounts. However, Rs 31,279 crore was shown on the SIPF portal. There was a difference of Rs 2,984 crore in reconciliation, which the government declared unclaimed.
However, this could be an error as even after deductions, the entry does not appear in employees' accounts several times. The amount is adjusted in the employees' accounts during retirement or in service period if loans are taken from the GPF.
Ignoring this, the officers of the Finance (Expenditure) Department first considered it unclaimed and then used to reduce the revenue deficit and run freebie schemes.
However, according to the rules, even if this money is considered unclaimed, it should have been deposited in the public account first and kept safe in this account for some period. Only then could this amount be considered unclaimed.
When information about this reached the CAG, it wrote two letters to the Finance Department of Rajasthan government objecting to it. The CAG also mentioned this in its report tabled in the Legislative Assembly this year.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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