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No Sense for Gains

South Goa panchayats have been dragging their feet in cashing in on ‘manna from heaven’, literally. Local self-governing bodies in Goa are known for yielding power and clout, but when it comes to benefitting from central funds it is a sad story indeed. While the state government is bracing up for acting upon recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, it was revealed that South Goa district is yet to avail nearly Rs 15 crore from the Centre, as the zilla panchayat is yet to make much headway in preparing the draft development plan by the district planning committee. Most village panchayats are yet to submit their village development plans and the annual development plans. The 14th Finance Commission also mandates that the panchayats prepare plans through the village development committee. But in the absence of technically qualified staff, the panchayat plans look a distant reality. It is a shoddy setup. If some panchayat lacks experts, the other laments that block-level engineers are never available even to process simple village-related works. At some places, the absence of a full-time secretary could come as a major hurdle in the timely utilisation of the funds. In several cases, the auditors come down heavily upon these “non-performing” panchayats and in many cases, the unutilized money goes back to the Centre. The scene is so bad that the South Goa district planning committee is unable to proceed with the district plan as only 35 panchayats have sent their annual development plan. The state government has to take a keen interest in recruiting adequate and qualified staff to get the job done smoothly so that these panchayats can utilize the money given to them. Also where recruitment has happened, the staff’s lackadaisical attitude has to be rapped to get the job done.

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