Gangtok, January 31: A letter issued by an official on behalf of the state Human Resource & Development Department (HRDD) on Thursday related to budget provision, created much concern and confusion among the teaching fraternity along with the public.
“The letter in regard to the salary arrangements written by one of the Senior Accounts Officer is not fake, but has been written without seeking authorization from the department’s headquarter, which is mandatory”, clarified GP Upadhyaya, the Principal Secretary cum Additional Chief Secretary, HRDD.
Speaking regarding the recent departmental letter forwarded by one Sr. AO of the HRDD, which was widely shared over social media, Upadhyaya accepted that the letter is not fake, but can be considered illegal as it has been written without prior information or authorization from the higher authorities of the concerned department. The letter, according to him, also took him by surprise as he had no idea about it.
“No permission was sought to the department by the officer in question for the letter to be written, which is mandatory”, added the Principal Secretary and informed, “funds are there with the department headquarters and there shall be no problem”.
Terming the act of the Sr. AO as a blunder and a result of miscommunication, Upadhyaya said that the department has issued him with a show cause notice, to which the department expects to receive a reply within 10 days.
“This is an absolute blunder from our official, for which action will be taken; but the further course of action will be as per his explanation to the reply of the show cause notice”, he adds.
The Principal Secretary also clarified that there is no fund crunch, but it is just an arrangement and adjustment of salaries from different salary heads of the department from different districts. He informed that this happens every year, especially during the end of the financial year, but this doesn’t meant insufficient funds for salaries.
“Sometimes the department needs to re-appropriate funds for salaries at the end of financial year. It’s not unusual and is an internal adjustment which happens every year”, he notified.
As informed, the need for re-appropriate funds from different salary heads arises due to non-projection of correct salary requirement by the accounts section and it happens due to some lapses on the part of the accounts staff in the district.
Upadhyaya accepted that there are some issues this year due to the large number of appointment under One Family One Job (OFOJ). The previous government had appointed almost two thousand employees under the OFOJ scheme, which made the department to arrange salaries from different heads of the department.
As per the sources, senior officials from the concerned department has been called by the Secretary of the Finance Department to discuss the matter.
It may be mentioned here that the Sr. AO (East), HRDD, issued a letter to the Block Development Officers (BDO) of Ranka, Pakyong, Regu, Rhenock, Khamdong, Rakdong, Tintek, Duga, Nandok, Kabi, Martam and Parakha in regard to the insufficient fund to provide the salaries to the employees of Primary and Junior High Schools under East District under the above mentioned blocks of East district.
It may be noted that the HRDD has already issued a public notice in regard to the withdrawal of the letter issued by the Sr. AO which reads-
“The Education Department states that the letter issued by Senior Account Officer (East) stands withdrawn”.
The notice was issued by the Nodal Officer for Public Relations and Publicity of the HRDD, GoS.
The notice further reads-
“I am informing everyone that there is no need to be misled, misguided by this, as this was an outcome of miscommunication and the regular instructions of the Finance and Accounts Section of the Department being misunderstood. The Department has funds for salaries of BAC-teachers for January 2020 and shall be released shortly.”