Government accountability is the need of the hour

    A report allegedly claims that AIADMK general secretary V. Sasikala paid bribes to prison officials in order to avail special facilities for herself that are prohibited by law. In Madhya Pradesh, the state government reportedly spends Rs. 12 lakhs every year to maintain a singular tree on a hillock. While both these case may appear disparate, there is actually an overarching theme between the two cases. Both are a clear example of the misappropriation of public funds.

    While the allegations of bribery in Sasikala’s case is the main point of contention, it is important to also remember that those special facilities provided to a criminal of the state are being paid for by taxes paid to the government. The government allots a budget for prisons, which is meant to cover the costs of salaries, rent and other such expenses as well as to maintain and improve prison facilities for the wellbeing of prisoners. By bribing prison officials to specifically cater to her needs, the prison budget is being misused to provide facilities to an individual who is not entitled to them. The provision of these facilities divert much needed funds that would have been better used for the welfare of prisoners rather than to serve a corrupt individual.

    The expenditure by the Madhya Pradesh government is more evident and shows the diversion of funds towards non-critical areas. While state governments have the discretion of how they spend their funds, allocating funds to preserve a single tree seems excessive when you consider that the money could instead have been used to provide aid to farmers in the state and also fund overall development projects in the state.

    In a country where a small portion of the population pays income tax as well as other taxes, such blatant misuse of public funds is a breach of the contract between the people and the government. The people pay taxes in return for receiving basic services and goods from the government and when those goods and services are not provided, it becomes easier for people to justify not paying taxes. In this scenario, the government must do more to promote accountability in all government institutions and maintain the people’s trust in the government in the matters of the nation’s finances.