CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) in its latest report on performance audit of Post Matric Scholarship scheme for SC candidates, has noted an issue related to inspection of education institutions, delays in providing fund, the practice of seeking funds by increasing number of SC students. CAG submitted "Performance Audit of Scheme of Post Matric Scholarships to the Students belonging to Scheduled Castes for studies in India in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh" in the Parliament. As per the submitted report, disbursement of funds had led to delay in payment of scholarship to SC students in the following states
- Uttar Pradesh
- Tamil Nadu
SC Post Matric Scholarship - Amount not disbursed
As per the report, there was a delay in disbursement of Post Matric Scholarship fund within 1 to 6 years. PMS fund has not been disbursed to a total of 18.58 lakhs SC students from the states of Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. According to the report, the Post Matric Scholarship fund worth Rs. 375.30 crore was undisbursed from the state of Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
The report focusing on the disparity in the guidelines stated that there was no provision mentioned to monitor or evaluation was mentioned, which should be mandatory for decision-makers to evaluate the progress of the scheme and identify hindrance for better implementations.
SC Post Matric Scholarship - Issues stated in CAG report
- Post Matric Scholarship scheme was delayed between one to six years in the states of Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, as stated in the report
- CAG auditor also found discrepancies in the data generated by state portals with the financial loss of Rs. 455.98 crores in Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh and an investigation will be held by the ministry as well as state government
- There was undisbursed Post Matric scholarship fund of worth Rs. 375.30 crores in the state of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh
- Maharashtra - There was a decrease in Post Matric Scholarship from 4.35 lakhs in 2015-16 to 3.84 lakhs in 2016-17, due to the approval of only 82% of scholarship forms, while 7 to 10% were pending in district levels. Also in the state, the inadequate inspection was conducted in 5 main districts namely, Ahmednagar, Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur and Amravati
- Karnataka - The scholarship guidelines were breached due to the purchase of the high quantity of stationery, computers, peripherals etc. in Karnataka
Maharashtra SC Scholarship Problems
The apex auditor pointed out decrease of scholarship in Maharashtra. There was a decrease of scholarship from 4.35 lakhs in 2015-16 to 3.84 lakhs in 2016-17. The reason for this contraction in PMS scheme was the fact that state government approved only 82 per cent of scholarship applications, which was around 4.66 lakhs. While the remaining 7 to 10 per cent of the scholarship cases were pending in college or district levels.
CAG reported that no physical inspection was conducted in five districts namely Ahmednagar, Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur and Amravati in 2012-17. The inadequate inspection ranged between 67 percent and 94 percent was suspected in other four districts including Nagpur (88 percent), Aurangabad (67 percent), Thane (94 percent) and Nashik (90 percent).
There were a short release of fund from Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment resulting in gathering of arrears amounting to Rs. 5,368 crores viz. 71 percent in connection with these five states. During 2012-17, due to the maintenance of Post Matric e-scholarship portal, poor financial management was imitated in a divergence of funds amounting Rs. 28.94 crores in the state of Maharashtra.
SC Scholarship: Irregularities mentioned in CAG report
- No Guidelines for Monitoring and Evaluation: Mentioning the failures, the apex body said that, despite being in existence since 1944, the ministry has not implemented any guidelines for the provision of effective monitoring and evaluation. There was no internal audit in all the tests except for Uttar Pradesh, where it was found deficient
- Audits Missing at Institution Level: Institutional mechanisms for monitoring and grievance including internal audits, periodic inspections and appointment of redressal officers were not in place or not practically optional
- Utilisation of Funds not monitored: The ministry never carried out any encyclopedic evaluation to check the utilization of the scheme. It was also required to check the changes needed to enhance the effectiveness of Post Matric Scholarship scheme
- Discrepancy in e scholarship Portal with huge financial implication - The state portals failed to ensure security and providing assurance that transactions will be valid, authorized, complete and accurate, as stated in the CAG report. From the state of Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, the auditor found discrepancy data generated by state portals with financial implications of worth Rs. 455.98 crore. In this regard, ministry, as well as state, will be investigating to prevent the risk of irregular payments.
Post Matric SC Scholarship: Measures to be taken
- State Level Monitoring Systems to be placed: All the states should be asked to develop their monitoring and control mechanisms including verification of eligibility, payment and reimbursement of effective implementation
- Release Due Amount of SC Scholarship: CAG officials asked the ministry to ensure the accountability of officials and asked to release the undue amounts
- Setting of Timelines: The ministry should also prescribe indicative timelines for the states to furnish their demands for central assistance, completion of process and disbursement of the fund under the Post Matric SC Scholarship scheme