Why CAG report is only ‘raddi’ for J&K govt

SRINAGAR: The annual report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India that acts as a watchdog to check government departments’ financial dealings and their expenditures appears to end up as scrap for the state government.
In the past one decade, the government has acted on just 11 observations out of the 86 made by the CAG.
The CAG in its annual report that was recently tabled in the state Legislature has slammed the government for not taking action against the departments or their heads.
Response of the govt towards audit
The CAG says Principal Accountant General (PAG, Audit) Jammu and Kashmir, conducts periodical inspection of the government departments to check the transactions and verify the maintenance of the important accounts and other records as prescribed in the rules and procedures.
“These inspections are followed up with Inspection Reports (IRs) incorporating irregularities detected during the inspection and not settled on the spot, which are issued to the heads of the offices inspected with copies to the next higher authorities for taking prompt corrective action,” the CAG says.
It says the heads of offices or government are required to comply promptly with the observations contained in the IRs, rectify the defects and omissions and report compliance through initial reply to the PAG’s office within one month from the date of receipt of the IRs. Serious financial irregularities are reported to the heads of the departments and the government.
The CAG says that in last three years, 2009 IRs were issued to different departments out of which only 26 were finalized and the rest remained pending for clearance as on March 31, 2013.
In 2011, the CAG said, 540 IRs were issued with 1891 paragraphs having money value of Rs 1625.48 crore. Sixty-five more IRs were added during the same year with 280 paragraphs having a money value of 132.61 crore. But only six IRs were finalized with 118 paragraphs (observations) having money value Rs 31.21 crore. “Closing balance remains 599 IRs, 2053 paragraphs with money value Rs 1726.88 crore,” it says.
Similarly in 2012, 599 IRs were issued with 2053 paragraphs having money value of Rs 1762.88 crore. Additional IRs 72, 341 paragraphs having money value Rs 57.14. Clearance IRs 20, paragraphs 107 having money value Rs 41.66, closing balance was 651 IRs with 2287 paragraphs with money value Rs 1742.36 crore.
In 2013, the CAG says, 651 IRs were issued, with 2287 paragraphs having money value Rs 1742.36 crore; additional IRs 82, 430 paragraphs having money value Rs 289.23 crore. “No clearance of IRs, 164 paragraphs having money value Rs 121.74 crore. Closing balance was IRs 733, 2553 paragraphs having money value Rs 1909.85 crore.”
“This large pendency of the IRs and audit observations indicated that the heads of offices and heads of the departments do not take prompt action to rectify the defects, omissions and irregularities pointed by the PAG,” the CAG says.
“The prolonged delay in settlement of the audit observations is fraught with the risk of their becoming too old for effecting recovery or action by the concerned departments.”
No Departmental Audit Committee meetings held in 2013
During 2012-13, no Audit Committee Meeting was held by the state government for settlement of the audit observations raised by the State Revenue Audit, according to the CAG.
Response of the departments to draft audit
The CAG says serious and important audit observations (paragraphs) noticed during local inspections are proposed to be included in the report of the CAG and are forwarded to the Secretaries of the departments concerned, drawing their attention to the audit findings and requesting them to send their response within six weeks.
“The fact of non-receipt of replies from the departments is invariably indicated at the end of each such paragraph included in the audit report,” the auditor says.
The CAG says six draft paragraphs and one performance audit proposed to be included in the Part A of the audit report for the year ended March 31, 2013 were sent to the concerned Secretaries of the respective departments up to October 2013 with the request to send the replies within six weeks. “Replies in respect of three draft paragraphs have been received and included in the paragraphs. The performance audit was discussed in the exit conference held with the government or concerned department,” it says.
In last 10 yrs, out of 86 govt acted on 11 observations
The internal working system of the Public Accounts Committee notified in December 2002 laid down that after the presentation of the report of the CAG of India in the Legislative Assembly, the departments of the government are required to prepare and send to the Assembly Secretariat, suo-motu action taken Notes (ATNs) on the audit paragraphs within three months of an audit report being laid on the table of the legislature, the CAG says.
A review of the position in this regard showed that as of October 2013, out of 86 audit paragraphs included in the audit reports for 2000-01 to 2011-12, the ATNs in respect of 75 audit paragraphs due between June 2002 to September 2013 had not been finalized, the report says.
Out of Rs 124 cr only, Rs 1 cr recovered of accepted cases
The CAG says that in respect of paragraphs featured in the audit reports 2007-08 to 2011-12, the department or government accepted audit observations involving Rs 124.07 crore, of which only Rs 1.09 crore was recovered till March 2013. “This shows that the department and government did not recover the dues fully even in the cases where the audit had been accepted,” it says.
The departments may ensure prompt recovery of dues involved in the accepted cases, the report says.
Loss of revenue, other heads aggregating to Rs 749.94 cr in 365 cases
Test-check of the records of 70 units of Commercial Tax, State Excise, Motor Vehicles and other departments conducted during 2010-13 showed underassessment/short levy/loss of revenue aggregating to Rs 749.94 crore in 365 cases, the CAG report says.
“The concerned departments accepted underassessment and other deficiencies of Rs 2.99 crore involved in 80 cases pointed out in audit during 2012-13 and earlier years,” the report says.
The CAG also says that the departments or government have accepted audit observations involving Rs 268.13 crore out of which just Rs 4.62 lakh has been recovered.