Shillong, May 14: The Meghalaya government is incurring huge expenditure on political appointees, with whistle-blowers calling it “mind-boggling”.
According to RTI activists, the government spends an astounding amount on such “unnecessary appointees”. This money, they said, could have been utilised for various development activities or help solve unemployment in the state.
The expenditure incurred on political appointees came to light today when members of the National Khasi Union (NKU) exposed it through information they had received through the Right to Information Act, 2005. The union sought the information from the Meghalaya finance department on the perks and facilities provided to political appointees holding various posts such as chairman, co-chairman and deputy chairman, among others.
The union said only for one political appointee, who holds the post of chairman, the government spends nearly Rs 10,54,000 per annum (Rs 87,833 in a month), including one-time amount of Rs 2 lakh for furnishing hishouse. The total expenditure incurred only for one chairman comes to around Rs 12,54,000 in a year.
The other expenditure incurred for the chairman includes travel and dearness allowance, expenditure on office staff such as stenographer, special assistant, personal assistant, typist, driver, additional driver, one grade-IV staff in office and five at the residence. The chairman has got one telephone in office and a phone at home.
The chairman’s post, especially in government-run public sector undertakings (PSUs), is drawn mostly from sitting legislators or former members of Parliament or former legislators.
For a person holding the chairman’s post, his/her rank in the government is categorised as A+ and enjoys the same TA/DA as provided to a grade-I officer.
NKU general secretary Samborlang Diengdoh told reporters that according to information received so far, there were around 60 political appointees appointed in various boards and corporations run by the state government.
“There are more political appointees and more information is awaited. If one political appointee can avail of huge benefits from the government, the kind of money spent on other political appointees is mind-boggling,” Diengdoh said.
Stating that political appointees were “unnecessary” as it resulted in wasteful expenditure of public money, Diengdoh said crores of rupees were spent by the government on political appointees.
The NKU also sought to know from the government contribution of political appointees to the state.
“What have these political appointees contributed to the state? Instead of spending onthem, the government could have utilised the money for various development activities in rural areas, including the border, pay salaries of teachers and Anganwadi workers as well as create jobs for educated unemployed youths in the state,” Diengdoh said.
The NKU will soon compile a list of educated unemployed youths who could have benefited from this money, Diengdoh added.