Red tape is as old as the institution of government itself, but this one beats many previous low watermarks.
As many as 37 ministers of Mamata Banerjee’s government have become victims of red tape as they are yet to get the salary for September, thanks to lack of instructions from the chief minister’s office (CMO) to the constitution branch of the home department, which prepares the salary.
Old timers in Writers’ Buildings have told HT that there is no precedence of ministers’ salary being held up in recent memory.
The constitution branch is yet to receive the instruction from the CMO about the resignation of the six Congress ministers who resigned on September 22.
The constitution branch had no orders to prepare the salary without the six former Congress ministers, and so it has held up the entire process.
“The official order for preparing the salary without the six former Congress ministers has to reach the constitution branch, which would start preparing the October salary of the ministers before Puja,” said an officer of the constitution branch.
Ironically, the constitution branch and CMO are located in adjacent rooms and are only a few yards apart. The pay and accounts office is in Phears Lane, which is less than a km from Writers’ Buildings.
Ministers get a salary of RS. 8,000 only. The cheque meant for the chief minister is held up too, though she has not drawn any salary since the first month.
Despite great financial crisis, the state government has managed to pay its employees in time so far. On Wednesday, law minister Malay Ghatak and tourism minister Rachpal Singh confirmed to HT that they are yet to paid their September salary. West Bengal government’s employees get their salary on the last day of the month.
Sources in the home department said October salary too could also be delayed as the file related to the resignation of the six Congress ministers is lying with the chief secretary.
The constitution branch waited for more than a week and then processed the salary of all the ministers including those who have resigned as they worked for 21 days of September.
The branch sent the file of the 43 ministers to the drawing and disbursement officer (DDO) of the home department. The DDO raised the bills for the salary in two parts and then sent the bills to the pay and accounts department for preparing the salary cheques.