Over 40 sitting and former MLAs, including ministers, are on the list of housing and car loan defaulters compiled by the Punjab Accountant General’s office.
While some have died, a few have not paid a single installment on loans taken from the government. Now, the AG office has asked the government to take up the matter seriously and recover the outstanding amounts.
In a recent letter to Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, the Accountant General of Punjab, Onkar Nath, said some former ministers and MLAs were defaulting regularly. Others, he said, were paying installments in cash in lump sum without indicating the period of recovery.
“This is not only irregular but also creates problems for my office to link up recoveries with the period the repayments are for,” Nath said.
The advances, from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 16 lakh, are given at a 6 per cent interest rate and should be paid back in 10 years.
The AG office has forwarded a list of defaulters with the details of the amount recovered till March, 2007. According to sources, the state government did not reply to a communication by Nath, addressed to the chief secretary, two months ago and a fresh communication dated November 16 was sent by R.K. Bhatti, senior deputy accountant general, recently.
When contacted, Nachhattar Singh Mavi, who retired in March as Secretary of the Vidhan Sabha, said the issue of defaulters was discussed at length during the previous Congress regime to devise ways to recover the loans.
Due to non-payment of dues, many former MLAs have not got their pension.
“Taking the problem into account, former Assembly Speaker Kewal Krishan approved a sanction order in January that if a defaulter MLA furnishes an affidavit that he is ready to get his arrears adjusted from his pension amount, then his pension can be released,” Mavi said.
Interestingly, for the past three years, after a change in government policy regarding loans, state government employees have been getting loans through a nationalised bank.