Anti-Corruption Branch probing govt. employees’ LTC scam
The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) is investigating an alleged scam related to the purported manipulation of official procedures, large scale forgery of documents and the inflation of financial figures pertaining to travel allowances granted to government employees on a routine basis.
Dubbed the Leave Travel Concession (LTC) scam by a whistle-blower, who happens to be a government employee himself, the alleged swindle is feared to have been in motion across the country for several decades and is understood to have been kept under wraps by government officials in collusion with dubious travel agents.
According to the complaint, the scam entails the purchase of cheap air tickets from government-run carrier Air India by travel agents well in advance of a trip, enticing government employees with packages including hotel accommodation and sightseeing at probable tourist destinations across India and making his or her parent department pay for both travel and accommodation expenses with the help of forged air tickets. Government employees are entitled only to the first, not the second.
“Government employees – both at the Centre and State levels – are entitled to LTC-80 and LTC allowances every two to three years; LTC-80 tickets, if procured directly from Air India, are relatively more expensive than fixed normal tickets because they are valid for a year,” the whistle-blower, whose identity is being withheld deliberately, stated in his complaint.
“That is where the agents come in. They entice government employees not to buy their tickets directly from the carrier, but settle for the tickets that they have already procured in advance, usually in electronic format, in lieu of which the agent provides freebies such as accommodation, and other add-ons which the employee should ideally pay instead of the tax payer or the exchequer,” the complainant further stated.
What follows, according to the complainant, is the manipulation of the price of the air ticket – which is refundable to the government employee under LTC by his or her parent department – to include both the travelling and accommodation expenditure incurred with the help of basic editing software over a computer.
The amount so arrived at, the complainant said, is more or less similar to the amount that would have been generated in the course of purchasing bona fide travel tickets under the LTC or LTC-80 schemes.
An ACB source said the department had written to several public sector undertakings and government units requesting them to get the travel bills claimed by their employees verified from Air India.
An Air India source confirmed the carrier had received several such requests from government departments seeking details about the veracity of the ticket fares claimed by their employees over the last three months.
Source : The Hindu