Vijayawada: The functioning of the Department of Health, Medical and Family Welfare, the Department of Education and Department of Information and Public Relations are at the top of the list of items beyond the agenda that are likely to be discussed in tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting. The CM is reportedly serious about streamlining the functioning of these departments as they directly impact the public.
According to a Cabinet minister, the salary structures of Media Liaison Officers (MLOs) are also likely to come up for discussion. He said that the present salary structures were hampering the delivery of the desired goods.
MLOs working with the Cabinet ministers have been demanding an enhancement of their salaries and also objecting to the existence of three payment structures. While one set of MLOs is being paid Rs 20,000, another set, which has been employed by the Commissionerate on a contract basis, is being paid Rs 50,000 per month. The process of appointment of these employees has been under fire due to objections raised by eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan to the terminology used in the GO. Mr Bhushan’s remarks have prompted the government to keep the GO in abeyance.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had asked HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao and officials of the Education Department, on the second day of the Collectors’ Conference held in the month of September, to have compound walls constructed and a biometric system of attendance implemented in schools at the earliest. He had also expressed dissatisfaction at the department’s performance.
When Mr Ganta Srinivasa Rao had tried to provide an explanation, Mr Naidu had said that it wasn’t correct for the entire department to ignore the instructions that had been given to them multiple times over.
“Are the officials of the education department looking for ways to fail the government?” he had asked. He had warned the minister that serious action would be taken if he did not manage to set the issues in his department right.
Mr Naidu had said that despite the release of Rs 5,000 crore for the Hybrid Annuity Model, it wasn’t being implemented effectively. He had asked why compound walls hadn’t been constructed even two years after the laying of their foundation stones. When School Education commissioner Sandhya Rani had pointed out that the biometric machines weren’t working properly, Mr Naidu had reprimanded her for having the same complaints for the past three years.
Mr Naidu is not happy with the performance of the Department of Health and Family Welfare either. He is likely to inquire about the status of the Seven Colourful Blankets Scheme for government hospitals. He may insist on the generation of tangible outcomes instead of presentations.
Despite funds, ad bills pile up
Despite the allocation of additional funds, the bills of outdoor advertising agencies have not been cleared by the Department of Information and Public Relations (I&PR). This has caught the attention of the Finance Department and the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). The Finance Department has begun eliciting explanations for these lapses and sharing the responses received with the CMO.
A special officer of the Chief Secretary cadre is adjudicating the entire process.
As election year approaches, the CMO is compelled to look into activities related to publicity to improve visibility for the government’s development schemes. Though the Chief Minister recently pulled up the Department of I & PR for not satisfying the aspirations and requirements of the CMO, the department has been unable to enhance its presence on new media platforms.
Meanwhile, outdoor advertising agencies have been struggling to have bills from as far back as 2014-15 cleared. Individual firms have nearly gone bankrupt due to the non-payment of bills. While some larger firms have received their dues, small and medium firms are eagerly awaiting their turn. Middlemen claiming to have connections to senior officials in the department have been promising to ensure the release of payment in exchange for money.