New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said there was no "misappropriation" of funds under the Rs 52,000-crore farm debt waiver scheme and sought a more comprehensive audit by CAG to get a better picture.

Stating that the sample size taken for auditing was "too small", Pawar said audit of "significant" number of accounts should be done by Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

"Government of India has taken the decision and money has been sent to banks. Accounts and beneficiary list has been selected by banks under the supervision of RBI and NABARD. Money has directly been transfered to accounts. Where is the question of misappropriation?" Pawar said.

The Minister's comments come in the wake of CAG finding a number of shortcomings in implementation of the scheme. It pointed out thousands of beneficiaries were not eligible while those eligible were denied the benefits. Pawar, however, did not rule out some possibility of exclusion of eligible farmers and inclusion of non-eligible farmers in the beneficiary list prepared by banks.

"We have to understand out of 3.7 crore accounts, CAG has taken sample of 90,576 accounts. That means 0.25 percent accounts have been audited. With such a big scheme announced throughout India, coming to conclusion with such small figure! I think I should get more information," Pawar said.

He said the issue should be discussed "when significant number of accounts are audited, that will give better result." After receiving the preliminary report of CAG, the Finance Ministry had written to RBI and NABARD that the number of accounts taken for auditing by CAG was not "sufficient" and all accounts should be audited as early as possible, he added.

Pawar said banks can recover money from non- eligible farmers and said the Centre will have to take decision on extending benefits to eligible farmers. "If suppose those people are not eligible but have got advantage, I am sure banks will recover that money. There are certain farmers, who are eligible but not got advantage. As on today, there is no budgetary allocation but we have to apply our mind. We have to take some view after getting the report."

Govt ready to debate loan waiver scheme

In the wake of CAG report on farm loan waiver, members in Lok Sabha on Wednesday demanded stern action against swindlers in the Rs 52,000 crore scheme, prompting the government to agree to a full-fledged discussion.

Members, cutting across party lines, lambasted the government for failing to properly implement the programme. Responding to a brief debate, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said, "I share the sentiments of the members. It is not only a matter of grave concern but it is a matter of shame."

Speaker Meira Kumar said the members should give notice so that a detailed discussion could take place on this important matter. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj referred to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the farm debt waiver scheme and said thousands of actual beneficiaries were denied its benefits, while those who were not eligible got the relief.

Demanding that officials of banks and auditors should be questioned and FIRs filed, she said the RBI had also convened a meeting of banks in January and given them time to rectify the mistakes, "but no action was taken." Swaraj also sought a structured discussion in the House on the "very serious matter".

The CAG report, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, said the guidelines for implementation of the scheme were violated with a private schedule commercial bank shown to have received reimbursement for loan of Rs 164 crore extended to Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs). It also noted prima facie evidence of tampering, over writing and alteration of records.

We knew from Day One that banks will create hurdles for farmers on this scheme: Sharad Yadav
Government knew about the loot of thousands of crore meant for the farmers but did not take any action. Why was no action taken? Who were protecting these looters?: CPI-M’s Basudeb Acharia
It is a systemic failure in which crores and crores have been swindled. It was a ‘unique case’ where the administrative system itself has failed. We demands exemplary action against those involved, sooner than later: TMC’s Sudip Bandopadhyay.
Those who have swindled the money from the scheme needed to be given strictest punishment as their "loot" has led to suicide by large number of farmers. Government should treat this as a crime and act accordingly: Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete
The main beneficiaries of the scheme were actually the big landlords who had reaped the benefits in the name of their tenants or landless farmers: Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda
The scam showed how bureaucracy looted public money at a time when the political class got blamed for all the wrong: Lalu Prasad Yadav
The government had brought the scheme with good intentions, but lapses have been found in its implementation as the administrative system is six decades old. The matter has to be discussed thoroughly: Sanjay Nirupam


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