GUWAHATI, April 3 - Taking cognizance of findings of corruption cases and massive financial irregularities in the Directorate of Economics and Statistics in the State, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has issued direction to the departmental officials to take stern action against those involved in such corrupt practices, an official release said.
Reports of rampant corruption in the directorate surfaced after the Director of Financial Inspections (DFI) conducted an inquiry in the aftermath of receiving complaints of irregularities in the office and submitted its report in 2016.
Under 13th Finance Commission grant, the Directorate of Economics and Statistics under the Planning and Development Department was provided Rs 5.4 crore annually to achieve certain milestones set by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, for the five years duration from 2010-11 to 2014-15. The aim was to improve the statistical system at state and district level.
However, against this amount, the directorate could draw a total amount of Rs 10.8 crore only in two instalments (Rs 5.4 core each) in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and provided utilisation certificate (UC) for the same. Suspecting some wrongdoing in the whole matter the Planning and Development Department asked the Finance Department, which is overall responsible for Finance Commission grants, to conduct an inquiry on the matter.
Following that, the DFI detected serious irregularities and lapses on the part of the officers and staff of the Directorate of Economics & Statistics, including misappropriation of government fund. It was seen that government money was illegally deposited in the personal accounts of many of the officers and staff of the directorate.
DFI recommended in its report that the Planning and Development Department should ensure that the entire amount be recovered and deposited in the State exchequer. Following that, the department has taken several steps and placed ten officers and 17 staff members of the directorate under suspension.
Moreover, departmental disciplinary proceedings have also been drawn against all the suspended officials and staffs, including issue of showcause notices to PK Goswami, the Director of Economics and Statistics, Jayanta Sonowal and Manabendra Saha, Deputy Directors of DES, and Bimal Kumar Phukan, the then Director who is now retired.