TUR asks govt to be transparent on Rs 399 crore COVID-19 expenditures

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Shillong, Oct 7: The Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) in Meghalaya has asked the National People’s Party (NPP)-led government to be “transparent and accountable” on the Rs. 399 crore spent for various measures against COVID-19 and urged the Meghalaya Lokayukta to be proactive “so that this pandemic is not misused to enrich the few.”

In a letter to Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, Angela Rangad of the TUR, raised questions about the funds spent.

“These numbers hide more than they reveal. For instance let us look at assistance to labourers, daily wage earners, BPL families to the tune of Rs. 51 crores. If we take the government’s figure then approximately 2,42, 857 persons got a cash support of Rs. 2100 each in their bank account,” She said.

TUR in a survey of unorganized sector workers in Shillong found that very few labourers, daily wage earners, BPL families have got this cash support.

“Even if some have got this support, it has been mostly single installment of Rs. 700,” Rangad said and demanded for a financial audit under the Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, government immediately put in the details of beneficiaries and the details of cash support in public domain.

Reacting to Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong about the cost of food being provided to people in Corona Care Centres and for testing kits is “exorbitantly high”, Rangad said, “TUR is afraid that the pandemic is being used by some to indulge in unaccountable financial actions. This crisis cannot be used for corruption and private enrichment.”

“TUR demands therefore that your government should proactively within a week under Section 4 of RTI Act as well as the Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act put in public domain the following information: 1. Detailed breakdown of various expenditure. 2. Detailed list of all personnel hired or deputed in Corona duties with their emoluments. 3. Details including all contracts and tender documents of all the procurements, medical and otherwise, carried out for corona crisis. 4. List of all the vendors and suppliers along with the payment details to them. 5. List of all the beneficiaries of Stranded Citizen funds and for cash assistance to labourers, daily wage earners, BPL families. 6. All expenses on publicity and IEC materials, public relations and advertisements to be put in the public domain. 7. All tenders and contracts in relation to the education department from March till date to be put in the public domain. 8. There should be a weekly financial report presented to the citizens of the state on Covid-19  related income and expenditure.”

TUR also appealed to the Meghalaya Lokayukta to be proactive during this period so that this pandemic is not misused to enrich the few.