Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
When a government creates a corpus fund for a specific purpose, the money deposited in the said fund does not come from the pocket of the head of that government. It comes from the State Exchequer.
Chit Fund operators in Orissa have allegedly cheated several lakhs of people, touted to be of 40 lakhs families whose monetary loss is claimed to be of the tune of Rs. 60,000 crores, though in this “scam”, the exact number of duped depositors and the money involved has not yet been authentically determined.
There is reason to suspect that many high-positioned persons including politicians, bureaucrats and judges were operating the chit funds through their frontmen, which, otherwise, could not have become so monstrous.
As the so-called duped depositors started filing FIRs against the cheating and the police smelled the enormity of the offense, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik attempted to lessen the wrath of the depositors by pronouncing a corpus fund for payment of their dues, just in order to keep the climate congenial to his interest in election.
The declaration of the Chief Minister, basically a stunt as it was to keep the so-called duped depositors somewhat assuaged before election-2014, the proposed corpus fund has not yet materialized. The budget placed before the Assembly is entirely silent on this score.
When media has no ethical role in cultivating funds for payment to chit fund depositors, it is intriguing that, media-mega-power Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, leading a delegation of the allegedly duped depositors has submitted a memorandum to Finance Minister P. K. Amat demanding formation of the corpus fund without delay and refund of deposits to the affected depositors.
As a sentinel of Orissa’s interest, we strongly oppose the proposal to create a corpus fund to refund the money deposited in the chit funds by the so-called duped depositors.
There are branches of nationalized banks and official organs all over Orissa that offer many saving schemes with assured interest. The so-called duped depositors could not have been duped had they preferred their deposits in such saving schemes. Their avarice led them into the trap of chit funds and deposit of their money in chit funds was an offense against the State inasmuch as the deposit in chit funds denied flow of funds to the State coffers.
Notwithstanding the size of deposits in chit funds, every such deposit was contributive to black money. And the same cannot be encouraged by the State with assured refund of their money avariciously stashed in black money coffers.
Depositing in chit funds was not made with State approval and hence, State should have no financial liability in misappropriation of the said deposits by the chit fund operators.
The State has only one role to play in this matter. That is, investigation into allegation of cheating and prosecution against the chit fund operators if the allegations are prima facie convincing. Beyond this, the State must not take any step.
The chit fund depositors must be held as willful allies of black money syndicate and for their benefit, the people of Orissa must not be fleeced by the Chief Minister through his proposed corpus fund as every pie to be used in that fund would come from the money of the tax-payers.
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