CAG Flays J&K for Rs 71,088 Crore Mismanagement
Jammu: Criticizing Jammu and Kashmir for poor fiscal management, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said the state administration has been continuously failing to "regularize" a whopping Rs 71,088 crore expenditure incurred cumulatively over the period from 1980 through 2008. "The excess expenditure amounting to Rs 71,088.66 crores incurred during 1980-2008 are yet to be regularized (approved) by the state assembly," said CAG report for the year ended on March 31, 2009.
The report, which was tabled in the Assembly today, further revealed that as per the Constitution, it is mandatory for any government to get its excess grant/appropriation approved by the legislature.
Although no time limit for regularization of excess expenditure is prescribed in the statutes, regularization of excess expenditure is done after completion of discussions of the appropriation accounts by the State Assembly, CAG said.
Case in Point: Department of Social Welfare
The Department of Social Welfare is in news and as usual again for wrong reasons. Even though this department is already notorious for being ‘good for nothing’ owing to its failures to live up to its mandate and people’s expectations, but now the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) too has gathered formal evidence to pull it up for failing to successfully implement its flagship schemes in the state. The annual CAG report for the past year has cited financial mismanagement, non-adherence of eligibility criteria, lack of monitoring and proper planning as some of the lacunae that resulted in Social department’s failure in implementing various state and centrally sponsored schemes.
The report also points out that the programmes largely failed to meet the expectations with one major scheme failing completely. CAG has also pulled up departmental bosses for unnecessary retention of huge undisbursed money in bank accounts and for delays in finalizing rate of contract in nutritive items under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) for instance. The report clearly states that lack of proper planning, non-release of funds, non-adherence of eligibility criteria and lack of supervision and monitoring are rampant in the department. It also points out that the targets for the National Social Assistance Programme, a centrally-sponsored scheme for old-age persons, were not achieved at all and same was the case with implementation of Contributory Social Security Scheme, aimed at benefiting marginal workers in 20-50 age group.
The CAG said there was extremely low percentage of achievement which indicated the dismal performance of the scheme in the state. As against the target of 53,300 marginal workers, the department could achieve a target of just 3427 workers with 94 percent shortfall in achievement of targets in 2008-09. Similarly, against a target of 13,300 workers, department could only implement scheme for just 1,889 persons with 86 percent shortfall in achievement of targets in 2007-08 and 75 percent and 86 percent shortfall in targets in 2006-07 and 2005-06, respectively. The District Social Welfare Officers retained assistance of Rs 78.15 crores for a period ranging from 7 to 366 days despite recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee to evolve a mechanism for timely disbursement of assistance under the schemes. It also pulled up the department for its failure to submit utilization certificates for an amount of Rs 27.67 crores under various schemes and pointed out huge unspent balance at the end of each financial year. The supplementary nutrition under ICDS was not provided to all beneficiaries from 2005-09 and shortfall ranged between 7 to 40 percent, it said adding the health check-up and other referral services were not provided to Jammu division at all.
Even though this report was tabled in the State Assembly, not much has been said by the government about this huge list of failures of the Social Welfare department. Now that the CAG has meticulously pointed out the specifics of failures and even identified the reasons, it remains to be seen if at all the government will initiate any action against those who are responsible for these failures. In fact one can say without any fear of contradiction that fixing responsibility on its officials to hold them accountable for failures is not in the governmental culture here. Had it not been so, then obviously the overall work culture in government agencies would have been far more healthy. Taking CAG reports as basis, it is high time that government takes those responsible for the failures of various schemes in Social Welfare department as well as in other departments to task. There cannot be a better reason to initiate such a culture of accountability in the working of the government and its agencies than the one provided by the annual CAG reports.