A parliamentary panel has questioned the coal ministry for not taking due care of its responsibility as a watchdog for Coal Mines Provident Fund Organisation (CMPFO). The panel has stressed that financial irregularities could have been avoided if the government had been vigilant enough in monitoring the activities of CMPFO. CMPFO is a body that takes care of social security of coal mines workers.
“The committee (PAC) notes that the Ministry of Coal has been apparently found severely wanting in discharging its nodal administrative role, which resulted in financial mis-management by CMPFO,” according to a recent report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
Though CMPFO enjoys functional autonomy, the nodal administrative ministry cannot shy away from its responsibility and accountability on the grounds of autonomy given to the organisation, it said.
The PAC, it said, is “aghast to note that it is only after CAG report No. 12 of 2017 that brought out the financial irregularities, the issues of financial impropriety by CMPFO came to the notice of the officials of Ministry of Coal.”
As per mandate, a senior-level officer not below the rank of joint secretary is the nominee of the ministry to the Board of Trustees (BoT). But, it is astonishing to note that even after due representation, the nodal ministry has not properly executed their responsibility and defined role. The ministry cannot abdicate its role of being the administrative body just by conveying that CMPFO has been delegated with necessary powers, it said.
The committee, therefore, exhorted the ministry to ensure that the activities of CMPFO are overseen with due care to prevent instances, such as the unwarranted transfer of funds in CMPFO from provident fund account to pension fund account in the future.
The committee stressed the need on the part of the coal ministry to discharge the administrative and supervisory role of being a nodal ministry at all times with due diligence and sincerity.