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Misuse of public resources is criminal. We are talking about financial irregularities in the government offices. 

The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) has unearthed quite a bit of cases related to misuse of public or state money, the most recent one being irregularities related to payment of DSA to health officials. The report found rampant practice of inflating grades, inadmissible payment and overlapping claim dates to claim DSA for international funded projects, among others.

The report observed that 34 health officials had claimed DSA at inflated grades resulting in excess payment of Nu 417,572. This was from expenditures pertaining to in-country training or workshops the ministry conducted under the WHO-funded projects during the financial year 2016-17. RAA also observed irregular payments of travel expenses to eight health officials at higher grades resulting in excess payment of Nu 26,135.

The lapses occurred due to the failure of the training coordinators, programme managers and accounts personnel in exercising due diligence while verifying and passing the claims for disbursements. Recently, our honourable MPs of the National Assembly were allegedly found to be doing table tours. When the media houses picked up the report, it kicked up quite a rumpus in the House. The MPs were seen darting about frantically to authenticate their tour details with the accounts. Some of them, aggrieved and saddened, and perhaps embarrassed to see their honourable names dragged and trampled on the streets came out with clarification soon after. It was unfortunate that our elected representatives had to be reminded of their duties this way.

It is safe to assume that such misappropriation of funds and public resources are happening in other government offices. We expect RAA to bring them to the light.

That the accounts personnel are not able to verify the positions and levels of the officials with many programmes going-on and many officials claiming allowances is ridiculous. It is being irresponsible. Weaknesses such as these in the system must not be be tolerated. Instead, it is the responsibility of the civil servants and the elected representatives of the people to set high moral and ethical standards in the system.

If internal mechanisms are not robust enough to intercept such instances, resource waste will continue to happen. In the long run, this will be damaging to the society.

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