FY 2017-18: 30% of budgeted funds given away in violation of rules, ‘persistent’ errors in accounts, no details kept of money given to Demands for Grants: CAG
Srinagar: When Haseeb Drabu took charge as finance minister of the coalition PDP-BJP government four years ago, a coalition of which he was said to be the chief architect, the first thing he did was to find faults with the budgets presented by earlier governments. On the floor of the legislative assembly Drabu accused the previous governments of committing “hara-kiri” and “Ponzi” fraud with the way they handled the state finances. Then, with much bluster, he set about announcing one corrective step after another, among them the bringing in of the central Goods and Services Tax (GST) which took away many of the J&K State’s powers of taxation.
It turns out, now, that Drabu bungled the budget accounts so much that the auditor can’t keep count of the faults in them, and worse, he allocated thousands of crores of state funds in contravention of rules, without keeping a record of them.
“There were persistent errors in budgeting, savings and excess expenditures,” reads the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India for the 2017-18 financial year, during which Drabu was the FM.
“Scrutiny of Demand for Grants for the year 2017-18 showed following inherent flaws in preparation,” reads the report. “Lump sum budgetary provisions of Rs 29,134.13 crore, which constitute 30.91 per cent of total provision of Rs 94,252.03 crore, were placed with
Controlling Officers in various Demands for Grants instead of detailed headwise/scheme-wise provisions, in contravention of the State Financial Rules.”
The issue was highlighted in previous years’ audit reports also but remedial action was not initiated, remarks the report.
As per the report, J&K governments since 1980 till 2018 had been making excess expenditure to the amount of Rs 1,14,061.35 crore as on 31 March 2018.
“Such un-voted expenditure may be stopped, except in case(s) of dire and extreme emergency, the cost of which cannot be met from Contingency Fund,” reads the report.
“This is in violation of Section 81 of the Constitution, is contrary to legislative intent, and defeats the objective of ensuring accountability of the executive over utilisation of public money,” it adds.
The report also said that persistent savings in a substantial number of grants over the years was indicative of over-assessment of grants above the requirement of funds by the government, without taking into account the previous year’s trends and adequately scrutinising the need and flow of expenditure.
“Persistent savings also indicates that either the schemes under departments did not receive priority of the government or the inefficiency in implementation by the department concerned/implementing agencies,” remarks the report.
It also notes, “The capital heads of accounts are being closed at sub-head level in the demand for grants. No detailed breakup to object head level is available in the approved demand for grants. These deficiencies make the budgeting process erroneous, thereby making reconciliation of departmental figures with those compiled by the Accountant General (A&E), Jammu and Kashmir, difficult. The above matter had been reported to the State Government from time to time.”