Minister of state for programme implementation Srikant Jena on Tuesday batted for allowing members of Parliament to select contractors for executing projects allocated under their local area development funds (MPLAD).
The MPLAD guidelines of his ministry prohibit the MPs from deciding on the contractor on the grounds of possible conflict of interest. The contractor is usually selected by the office of the district collector on the basis of bidding.
A Lok Sabha member from Odisha, he said projects were being executed slowly under MPLADS because, unlike legislators, MPs are not allowed to select the contractor. This was the main reason cited for the poor pace of execution of works under the scheme.
An MP gets R5 crore every year for carrying out developmental works in his/her constituency. India has 790 parliamentarians. Ministry officials said that as much as R3,200 crore of this money was lying unspent till the end of 2012.
Jena, however, expressed hope that the money will be utilised in the remaining three months of the current financial year, considering that parliamentarians would prefer to see their voters getting impacted by the work before the next general elections — slated in April-May 2014.
The minister also sought to allay apprehensions that MPLAD funds may be misused after the ministry allows them to allocate up to R1 crore every year to trusts and societies. "It will be the job of the district magistrate to check the credentials of the trust or society for whom money from the MPLAD is meant. The project will be allowed only if the body meets the guidelines required," he told reporters on Tuesday.
He admitted that there had been violations of MPLAD guidelines in the execution of the work.