Wednesday 17 Jul 2024

Labour dept under lens; govt faces corruption challenge

VIBHA VERMA | JUNE 23, 2024, 12:23 AM IST


Exactly a year ago an audacious scam rocked the Excise Department, although it could now be overshadowed by a similar scam in the Labour Department orchestrated through a citizen’s service centre under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology. This could prove a major headache for the government that asserts zero tolerance to corruption.

While the scam occurred soon after the Covid outbreak when most government processes switched online, an errant Labour Inspector took advantage of the situation. In Pernem, where the Inspector was earlier posted, the registration process under the Shops and Establishment Act was allegedly manipulated.

The Goan has reliably learnt that the Inspector and his accomplice -- a retired Labour officer -- were issuing fake receipts to unsuspecting shop owners. Closely resembling the original receipts, these were allegedly generated by a service centre that charged registration fees 200 times higher than the original fees owed to the Labour Department.

“The affected shop owners remained unaware of the fraud until one of them received a notice from the department. An inquiry revealed that two girls from the service centre professionally generated the fake receipts, which were then distributed to shop owners by the errant Labour Inspector and his accomplice,” the source revealed. The department expects more complaints.

While the government’s reluctance to suspend or take disciplinary action against the officer is evident, he was shunted to the headquarters without work a couple of months ago only to get another prime posting in Bardez. This officer is now facing fresh allegations of misbehaving with the staff of Sanjay Centre for Special Education in Porvorim.

“There are several complaints of corruption and arrogance against him but without action. In the Pernem incident, although there was no formal complaint filed against him, there’s written evidence and witnesses narrating his modus operandi,” the source revealed, adding that the loss of revenue to the department is being evaluated followed by appropriate action. 

In what could be another coincidence, the excise scam had the same modus operandi, occurred during the Covid pandemic and involved the same Pernem taluka. Several liquor license holders were duped with fake renewed licenses as they continued their business until they were served with default notices by the head office.

The alleged mastermind was an Upper Division Clerk who was suspended along with two Inspectors, who allegedly colluded with him. It prompted Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s intervention and within just three days, the excise department managed to recover Rs 27 lakh from the UDC.  

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