Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated a video conference on “Strengthening of the Risk Based Internal Audit of Rural Development Programmes” on 24th July, 2020. The Minister of State for Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Secretary, Rural Development Shri N.N. Sinha and senior officers from Ministry of Rural Development participated. The Additional Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary, Rural Development and senior officers from 10 States viz. Assam Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal participated.
In his inaugural address, the Minister stated that the Ministry of Rural Development is assigned the responsibility for designing and administering programmes for Economic and Social Development of the rural areas of the country in close collaboration with the States. The Ministry through its programmes seeks to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth of India’s rural population. For this purpose, it has developed a multi-pronged strategy for expanding livelihood opportunities through wage and self-employment, providing rural housing, roads infrastructure and providing social safety net etc. A provision of about Rs.1,20,000 crore has been made in the Budget Estimates for the financial year 2020-21. In view of the situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic, an additional Rs.40,000 crores over and above this amount has also been provided for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme during this financial year. The Ministry of Rural Development would be spending about Rs. 2 lakh crores on the development of rural areas and welfare of the rural people. The Ministry has already released more than Rs. 90,000 crores to the States/UTs during the current financial year.
On this occasion, as a new initiative, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar released a “Financial Management Index for Rural Development Programmes” to rank the performance of the States on the basis of following parameters:
- Preparation of annual plan, projecting the requirement of funds for the financial year, expeditious release of State’s share, timely utilization of the funds and submission of the Utilization Certificates etc.;
- Optimum implementation of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) & Direct Benefit Transfer;
- Internal Audit; and
- Social Audit.
Shri Tomar said that the performance of the States on the parameters of the Index would also promote the spirit of competitive, cooperative federalism amongst States. He advised the States to ensure optimum utilization of the funds so as to ensure efficient implementation of all the programmes which are being implemented by the State Governments which include Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojaya-National Rural Livelihood Mission, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Grameen and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana etc.
The Minister in his address called upon the States to ensure that the large quantum of funds that are being routed through the Rural Development programmes to Gram Panchayats are effectively used for the development works at the village level. The Internal Audit process should ensure that the irregularities, if any, in implementation and financial management of the funds under these Rural Development Programmes are brought out and consequent remedial actions are initiated immediately. Concluding, he emphasized that the focus of the Government is on ensuring high level of transparency in the implementation of these programmes.