Monday, November 29, 1999

No misuse of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan funds: HRD ministry

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Rejecting news reports of foreign funds given for the flagship Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) being misused, the Human Resource Development ministry Wednesday said allocations under the programme were under independent monitoring, which has given satisfactory reports so far.'The Department of School Education and Literacy is dismayed and shocked at the unsubstantiated allegations in the press on the misuse of UK grants for SSA,' a statement issued by the ministry said.The British media had reported that funds given by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) was being misused. Reports quoted the figure for misuse of funds between 70 million and 340 million pounds.SSA is a flagship programme of the Indian government for universalising elementary education for children in the 6-14 age group.British media also quoted the Comptroller and Auditor General's report stating that almost 14 million pounds had been spent on items that had nothing to do with schools. According to the HRD ministry, the funds given by DFID for the scheme is barely two percent of the total allocation.An inquiry has been initiated by the British government to establish the truth of the news reports.The HRD ministry said the scheme follows a rigorous and robust monitoring system, which includes concurrent financial review by an independent agency like the Institute of Public Auditors of India and annual statutory audit by chartered accountants.'SSA also has a system of biannual Joint Review Missions (JRMs), in which the development partners participate. DFID has been an active participant in all JRMs.'It works on the basic principle of self disclosure and transparency. Since it is a programme with large community ownership and participation, there is emphasis on public display and sharing of information with the public,' the statement said.The Department of School Education and Literacy said it will write to the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of External Affairs in this regard.The HRD ministry said Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is supported largely by domestic resources and that Rs.91,431 crore has been invested in the programme by the central and state governments so far.It added that international contribution to the fund from the World Bank, DFID and European Union was Rs.4,700 crore for 2004-05 and Rs.4,330 crore from 2007-08 to 2009-10. Since inception, DFID has reimbursed Rs.2,500 crore, which represents 2.7 percent of the total investment under SSA.'The World Bank undertook a post-procurement review on sample basis in 2009-10. Findings of these post-procurement reviews have also indicated satisfactory procurement practices, and no mis-procurement was reported,' the statement said.

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