Education Dept showcauses Sr AO for unauthorized letter on funds crunch

Funds for salaries will be managed, Addl CS clarifies

Gangtok, 31 Jan:

A letter from the Senior Accounts Officer, East district, Education Department, to BDOs in the district conveying that the Department does not have funds to release the January and February salaries of employees engaged at Primary and Junior High Schools in the district had caused a flutter after the letter was widely shared on Facebook on Thursday.

Today, the Department officially withdrew the letter, has show-caused the officer for having communicated without authorization and clarified that the letter in question resulted from miscommunication and has assured that the Department has adequate funds for the Jan 2020 salaries “which will be released shortly.”

Speaking to SummitTimes today, the Education Department Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary GP Upadhyaya, while accepting that the letter was not a “fake,” stressed that the Senior Accounts Officer had shot off the letter without seeking authorization from the Department Headquarters, “which is mandatory.”

Reiterating that the Department had the funds for the Jan salaries, Mr Upadhyaya added that the final months of a financial year routinely require the department to re-appropriate funds for salaries.

“It's not unusual and is an internal adjustment which happens every year,” Mr Upadhyaya said.

The need to re-appropriate funds from different salary heads arises due to non-projection of correct salary requirement by the accounts section and due to some lapses on the part of accounts staff in the district, he added.

The letter in question had laid the blame on the doors of “some” BACs which had not reported shortfall in time due to which the Head Office could not include the shortfall of budget provision in the First Supplementary Demand for Grants.

The Director, Primary Education, who is also the Project Director, Samagra Shiksha, acting as the Nodal Officer for Public Relations of the Education Department, in a public notice issued today, apart from withdrawing the Sr AO’s letter, adds that while the Department has adequate funds to release the Jan salaries, the Department also has “ways and means” to arrange additional funds for salaries of February as well.

Meanwhile, the Additional CS, while terming the act of the Sr AO a “blunder” and a result of miscommunication, confirmed that a Show Cause Notice has been issued to him.

He also accepted that there are some issues this year due to the large number of appointments under One Family One Job scheme.

As per the source, the previous government has appointed almost 2000 employees under the One Family One Job Scheme for which the department has to arrange salaries from different heads.

“Even I was surprised when I came to know about the letter,” said the Secretary.

As per sources, senior officials from the HRDD department have been called by the Finance Department Secretary to discuss the matter.

“I think it will be a lesson for the Senior Accounts Officer (East), about how to handle such situations,” he said.

The public notice by the department also reads, “I am informing everyone that there is no need to be misled or misguided by this as this was an outcome of miscommunication and the regular instructions of the Finance and Accounts Section of the Department being misunderstood. The Department has funds for salaries of BAC teachers for January 2020 and shall be released shortly.”