CAG & its report on Jammu & Kashmir

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Mahadeep Singh Jamwal

It is undeniable that the common man is not aware, what the ‘Comptroller and Auditor General’ (CAG) is? And how important is to know, what the CAG reports tell us about Government expenditures and its reflection in books by the government departments? Such reports are indicators of corruption by way of miss-utilization, unfruitful expenditure, unauthorized payments etc. It was Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India that unearthed many infamous scandals including ‘Chara Ghotala’ (Fodder Scam), CAG took the lid off the ‘Colgate’ scam involving Rs. 1.86 lakh crore that became one of the biggest cases of corruption, CAG unearthed the ‘2G Spectrum’ allocation scandal, CAG exposed ‘Adarsh Housing Society’ scam etc. that rocked the nation. It is the CAG, an independent authority under the Constitution of India that promotes accountability, transparency and good governance through high quality auditing and accounting. Brief know-how of CAG carry us to the year 1858 (the year the British took over administrative control of India from the East India Company), when the office of the Accountant General (AG) was established. After independence, Article 148 of the Indian Constitution provided for the establishment of a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to be appointed by the President of India. The CAG is the head of the ‘Indian Audit & Account Department’ and chief Guardian of ‘Public Purse’. It is the institution through which the accountability of the government and other public authorities (all those who spend public funds) to Parliament and State Legislatures and through them to the people is ensured. It derives its audit mandate from different sources like: Constitution of India (Articles 148 to 151), The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971, Important Judgments, Instructions of Government of India and Regulations on Audit & Accounts-2007.
Accordingly, ‘Audit’ by CAG is the examination or inspection of various books of accounts by an auditor followed by physical checking of inventory to make sure that all departments are following a documented system of recording transactions. It is done to ascertain the accuracy of financial statements provided by the organization. Government Expenditures are mainly managed from the public funds. Any irregularity, inefficiency, omission found or question arises during the Internal or External Audit is normally noted and is informed to the concerned DDOs, which is called ‘Audit Para.’ The audit reports are received every year and the finance department has to keep a track of the ‘Audit Paras.’ With these understanding of ‘CAG & Audit’, when we traverse through the report of The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on Social, General, Economic and Revenue Sectors for the year ended 31 March 2019, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, presented to the Parliament on 24th March 2021, with alarming revelations of management of bank accounts, unfruitful expenditure, unauthorized payment of idle salary etc to the tune of Rs 192 cr in J&K, we come to the conclusion that revenue expenditure that increased by 91 per cent from Rs 29,329 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 56,090 crore in 2018-19, Non-Plan/ Normal revenue expenditure increased by 102 per cent from Rs 26,457 crore to Rs 53,578 crore and capital expenditure increased by 64 percent from Rs 5,134 crore to Rs 8,413 crore during the period from 2014 to 2019 never went for the relief of common man and it was against the claims of fanciful development by the center government. It needs a high level enquiry to pinpoint the defaulters on following observations by CAG as Audit compliance.

  1. Education Department has miserably failed to establish Model Schools at block level thus depriving quality education to the intended beneficiaries. The State Government contribution of Rs 5.74 crore and interest accrued included in the available fund of Rs 44.13 crore was also blocked for ten years.
  2. 131 DDOs of three selected Government Departments kept Rs 399.94 crore in Bank Accounts during the period from 2014 to 2019 and this include the amount meant for disbursement as relief/compensation to the victims of militancy, natural disasters, and land compensation apart from improper planning and non-completion of schemes, overstatement of expenditure in the Utilizations Certificates etc.
  3. Non-distribution of 1,30,121 ration cards printed by the Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department during the period 2015 to 2018 to the consumers led to non collection of Rs 1.07 crore as well as short remittance of Rs 1.69 crore into Government Account.
  4. Unfruitful expenditure due to non-functional Solar Power Plants Non-settlement of payment of Works Contract Tax (WCT) with the State Taxes Department rendered 128 Solar Power Plants installed at police establishments nonfunctional since September 2014 despite incurring expenditure of Rs 9.70 crore between May 2014 to January 2015 and availability of maintenance free warranty.
  5. Wasteful expenditure by Irrigation and Flood Control Department on water storage tanks resulting in wasteful expenditure of Rs 3.67 crore.
  6. Unauthorised drawl and unauthorized payment of idle salary of Rs 79.46 lakh to Drivers/ Chauffeurs during the period from March 2015 to January 2019 by Power Development Department (PDD).
  7. Unfruitful expenditure and blocking of funds as a failure of Public Health Engineering Department (Jal-Shakti) to make the augmentation of water supply scheme functional over a period of seven years resulted in unfruitful expenditure of Rs 78.28 lakh and blocking of Rs 39 lakh.