Monday, June 24, 2024

Whither governance?


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The revelation that Meghalaya’s revenue earning departments are in limbo is not very comforting. Those who have inspected these revenue generation outlets along the two busiest highways – NH 40 & 44 were appalled by the general lack of interest, accountability and responsibility of the officers manning them. This must have been going on for decades without anyone getting any the wiser. However we should not be led to believe that vehicles are allowed to go scot free without paying for the extra weight and for violating the rules and regulations on a daily basis. The very idea that records are not kept about the collections that should have come into the state treasury everyday means that revenue is going into private pockets. Its as simple as that!

This has been the bane of Meghalaya. Year after year, test checks by the auditors from the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) have detected huge revenue losses from the Transport and Taxation Departments simply because corruption rules the roost. While politicians and bureaucrats in charge of transport and taxation departments have made a killing for themselves, Meghalaya and its people are getting poorer. One reason why many centrally sponsored development schemes cannot be fully implemented is because the state government is unable to put in the matching grant or its share of the money into the scheme. So who suffers? The people of course who are at the receiving end of bad governance.

There is much talk about good and bad governance and what each entails. Meghalaya is a classic case of a state where governance has failed miserably. Why else would inspectors in charge of realising revenues give such an outrageous answer – that the computer is hanging and has been hanging for months together and hence data entries could not be made. The taxation people’s excuse is that it’s a software problem and bad connectivity. How much does a computer cost anyway? And would such a misdemeanour be tolerated by a private agency? Such shallow excuses are not acceptable and the officials concerned should be sacked for misleading not just the government and legislature but above all, the people of this State. Once the Assembly Committee submits its report on the lacunae they have detected in these revenue generating departments, it is expected that strict action will be taken against the defaulting officials. This is the only way to check corruption in Meghalaya until a Lok Pal is appointed.

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