Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CAG: J&K Government Equals Zero Accountability

The latest report (2010-2011) from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) points to a systematic pattern of institutional misgovernance in J&K which makes one wonder if a deliberate state wide fraud is being committed by those in power. Several reports

CAG Paints Gloomy Picture About Response to Audit Observations, IRs

Mohinder Verma (Daily Excelsior)

Jammu: Notwithstanding the fact that audit observations/ inspection reports issued by the Accountant General are aimed at ensuring remedial/ rectification action and accountability for the deficiencies and lapses, the Government Departments have been showing lackluster response in complying with the same resulting in continuation of serious financial irregularities and loss to the Government.

This has been pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its latest report tabled on the floor of State Legislature on last day of the Budget Session.

The hand book of instructions for speedy settlement of Audit Observations/ Inspection Reports issued by the Finance Department provides for prompt response by the executive to the Inspection Reports (IRs) issued by the Accountant General to ensure remedial/ rectification action in compliance with the prescribed rules and procedures and accountability for the deficiencies and lapses brought out in the IRs.

Moreover, the Heads of offices and next higher authorities are required to comply with the observations contained in the Inspection Reports and rectify the defects promptly and report their compliance to the Accountant General.

According to the CAG report, nine Audit Committee meetings were held during 2010-11 in respect of paragraphs contained in Inspection Reports pertaining to the civil wing wherein 627 transaction audit paragraphs were discussed and 241 settled.

"At the end of March 2011, 5613 Inspection Reports involving 28769 paragraphs pertaining to the period between 1998-2001 were outstanding", the CAG said while highlighting the intensity of lack of response to audit.

"The lack of response to audit indicates inaction against the defaulting officers and continuation of serious financial irregularities and loss to Government", report said and suggested that Government should look into this matter seriously and revamp the system to ensure proper response to the audit observations from the departments in a time-bound manner.

Painting gloomy picture about non-submission of suo-moto Action Taken Notes, the CAG said that to ensure accountability of the executives to the issues dealt with in various audit reports, the Finance Department of the State Government had issued instructions in June 1997 to the Administrative Departments to furnish to Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU) suo-moto Action Taken Notes on all the audit paragraphs featuring in the Audit Reports irrespective of the fact that these are taken up for discussion by these Committees or not.

As per the instructions, these Action Taken Notes are required to be submitted to these Committees duly vetted by the Accountant General within a period of three months from the date of presentation of Audit Reports in the State Legislature.

Consequent upon the holding of National Seminar on Legislature Audit Interface on July 5, 2010 at New Delhi regarding strengthening of Legislative Control over the financial activities of the Government and securing greater response of the executive to the report of CAG and recommendations of the PAC and COPU on these reports, the suggestions of CAG were adopted by the Committees.

These Committees skipped over the paragraphs prior to Audit Report 2000-01 and sought Action Taken Notes on all the pending audit paragraphs thereafter 2007-08 from the concerned Secretaries. However, it was noticed that out of 356 paragraphs featuring in the Civil Chapters of Audit Reports from 2000-01 to 2008-09, suo-moto Action Taken Notes in respect of only 167 paragraphs were received during the period between January 2011 and March 2011, the report said.

"The Action Taken Notes duly vetted by the PAG on the observations/ recommendations made by the PAC/COPU in respect of paragraphs discussed by them, are required to be furnished to these Committees within six months from the date of such observations/ recommendations", the report said, adding "out of 356 paragraphs featuring in the Audit Reports for the years 2000-01 to 2008-09 (excluding Audit Reports presented in State Legislature on March 31, 2011), only 122 paragraphs were discussed by the PAC up to March 2011.

The recommendations in respect of 108 paragraphs were given by the PAC but Action Taken Notes on the recommendations of the Committee was received in respect of only 22 paragraphs despite the PAG taking up the matter with the Chairperson of the Committee and the Chief Secretary.

No Accounts Available of Rs 1347 Crores Invested in PSUs

Asem Mohiuddin (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Disclosing that there are no accounts of Rs 1347 crores, which were invested by government in Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), the Comptroller Audit General(CAG) warned of fraud and leakage of public money due to delay in finalization of accounts.

“There are no accounts available of around Rs 1347.83 crores investment as grants and reliefs by government in PSUs in last few years. The government invested equity worth Rs 118.44 crores, granted loans worth Rs 739.27 crore, provided grants to the tune of Rs 476.98 crores and Rs 13.14 crores subsidy to 16 PSUs during the years,” CAG report disclosed.

It said in absence of finalization of accounts and their subsequent audit, it can’t be ensured whether the investments and expenditure incurred have been properly accounted for the purpose which the amount was invested and the target has been achieved or not, thereby, the governments investment in such PSU’s remains outside the scrutiny of the state legislature.

The report discloses that 13 PSUs in the State have incurred loss of whopping Rs 153.94 crores.

“The PSUs failed to finalize even single account each year, causing accumulation of the arrears,” it said and warned of fraud and leakage of money in case of delay in finalization of accounts.

It stated that delay in accounts finalization is the violation of the provisions of the companies Act 1956.

“The total losses incurred by PSUs are to the tune of Rs 226 crores, which were controllable given to professionalism and accountability in functioning of PSUs. The losses of working PSUs are mainly attributable to deficiencies in financial management, planning, implementation of projects, running their operations and monitoring,” it said.

It said the losses were pointed on basis of test check of records of PSUs. “The actual controllable losses would be much more,” he said.

According to CAG report, three major PSUs, which contributed to major losses to exchequer, are Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (52.52 crore losses), Jammu and Kashmir Industries Limited (42.31 crore losses) and Jammu and Kashmir State Financial Corporation (26.22 crore losses).

CAG Detects Rs. 1726.88 Crore Fraud in Accounts, Transactions of J&K Govt

Syed Junaid Hashmi (Early Times)

Jammu: CAG has detected Rs. 1726.88 crore fraud in the accounts and transactions of various departments of Jammu and Kashmir government.

In its audit report for the financial year 2010-11, CAG has pointed out that during the last three financial years (2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11), serious irregularities amounting to Rs. 1726.88 crores were brought to the notice of government but to no avail. CAG has rebutted government claims and stated that its audit observations were not respected and no action was taken even over the serious cases of embezzlement and fraud.

These serious irregularities came to fore during periodical inspection of accounts and transactions of various government departments by Principal Auditor General (Audit). After the inspection, departmental heads were apprised through Inspection Reports (IRs) about irregularities detected during the inspection in their respective departments. Even the higher authorities i.e ministers were sent copies of these reports.

Though anticipated to act swiftly, these departmental heads preferred to burry these observations and made no efforts to initiate inquiries and recoveries as required. Finance Department is yet to take serious corrective measures and initiate recoveries in 257 such cases involving an amount of Rs. 857.47 crore. Transport Department has failed to take action in irregularities amounting to Rs. 20.86 crore.

Rs. 813 crore irregularities involving 183 different cases have been detected in the Stamps and Registration department. Action by the state government has not been forthcoming especially in fixing responsibility of heads of various departments. Further, on yearly basis, present coalition government took over in January 2009 and on that day, the amount involved in irregularities stood at Rs. 739.11 crore.

During the first financial year i.e 2009-2010, CAG detected irregularities amounting to Rs. 935.57 crore. In the year 2010-11, irregularities of Rs. 132.61 crore were detected upto June 2010. 599 inspection reports were submitted to the government for perusal and action. Government took half-hearted action in 10 cases and recovered meager amount of Rs. 1 lakh during the last three financial years.

CAG has present a bleak picture of government action by stating that during the last five financial years starting from 2005-06; out of umbrage of cases pointed out, government took notice of just 33 cases of irregularities involving Rs. 8.75 crore. Even out of this small amount, government has managed to recover Rs. 45 lakh, leaving around Rs. 8.30 crore yet to be recovered.

CAG has stated that even in the cases, where government has accepted its observations, departmental heads have failed to recover the dues. CAG has advised the government to install a mechanism for pursuing and monitoring prompt recovery of dues involved in the accepted cases. Large pendency of IRs indicates that heads of various departments do not take prompt and timely action to rectify defects, omissions and irregularities, CAG has pointed out in its report.

It has stressed that prolonged delay in settlement of the audit observations is fraught with risk of their becoming too old for effecting recovery by the concerned departments. CAG has also observed that test check of 71 units of commercial tax, motor vehicles and pother departmental offices conducted during the year 2010-11 revealed loss of revenue aggregating to Rs. 68.92 crore in 300 cases.

CAG: J&K Education Victimized

Kashmir Images

The latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General has many things in it that speak volumes about the lax attitude of the state government in delivering the goods. Although everything in the name of governance and administration is vital for the overall well being of a society or people, but the education plays the basic and the utmost role in every sphere of the social and developmental life.

However, the CAG report pulls up the state government as the centrally sponsored scheme ‘education for all’ has shown startling figures in the Jammu and Kashmir state. Ironically the implementing agency of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has thought it better to keep the money in the banks rather than releasing the same in time so that they could be utilized in what they were sanctioned for. This is quite huge insensitivity and the bashfulness rather haughtiness on the part of those responsible for this wrongdoing as it keeps lakhs of the students from going to schools of which majority is from poor section of the society.

The wealthy and rich people send their wards to the private schools as there is almost no government school that can compete with any private school in the state particularly in the valley. It is only the destitute who benefit from the schemes like SSA. But after receiving much more funds than were needed, the state government, like other sectors, failed to utilize the funds in the scheduled time.

According to CAG report, there are about 3256 habitations without any schooling facility which is much more than a shame for those who still do not heed to the need of the hour. About 69 to 86 percent government schools have no drinking water, toilet and electricity facility. The funds meant for replacing school equipment such as black boards, sitting mats, dusters, registers and other office equipment were not released timely. Similarly the much publicized mid-day meal scheme also witnessed the same fate as there are no kitchens in most of the schools, neither utensil. The supply from Food Corporation of India had not been lifted for months together thus defeating the purpose, this scheme was implemented for.

The state government has kept an army of employees to run the department but most the times most of them are there on the roads demanding perks that they never deserve. It is they who are responsible for the deterioration of the educational system. They pay more attention to their in-genuine demands than to set the educational system in place. The results of the government schools are dwindling day by day and parents have almost given it up sending their children to the government schools.

There is no accountability at all and that is why those who retained the funds meant for SSA scheme will never be touched or taken to task for their ‘criminal’ act of playing with the future of lakhs of children. The government seems to have other priorities than welfare of the people. The people’s representatives are enjoying the life style and luxuries that even Dogra rulers would envy for. They, along with the uncouth bureaucrats have their children in top ranking schools, so it hardly matters for them who go to school and who not. They have sent their children to become rulers while as those, with whose career they are playing. People must rise to the occasion and demand what they are constitutionally entitles to. Education has been declared as the basic right and anyone who becomes a hurdle must be shown the door and penalized for the crime.

In western world, education is top priority and they are ruling the roost. China invests in the education and is now going past west in many fields. But ours is a state where everything is misplaced; be it bureaucrats or politicians, everybody is holding what he or she could not even dream of in a people whose systems are corruption free.

CAG Indicts State Govt for Flouting Norms

Dinesh Manhotra (Tribune)

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has indicted the Jammu and Kashmir government for violating the budget manual and delaying the submission of annual accounts of some autonomous bodies.

The latest CAG report stated that the government had failed to surrender Rs 3,762.45 crore in 42 cases of budgetary grants and appropriations in financial year 2010-11, while holding the state government’s compliance with various rules, procedures and directives unsatisfactory.

The CAG report pointed out that at the close 2010-11, there were 18 grants and five appropriations (state budget) in which savings occurred but no part of which was surrendered by the departments concerned.

“The outcome of the appropriation audit reveals that in 42 cases, savings exceeded Rs 1 crore in each case. Against the total savings of Rs 3,762.45 crore, savings of Rs 3,242.56 crore (86 per cent) occurred in 15 cases related to 12 grants,” the report pointed out.

The failure to surrender the funds deprived the government of the opportunity to transfer these funds to other needy sectors, the report revealed. As per the state budget manual, the spending departments are required to surrender grants, appropriations or saving portion thereof to the Finance Department as and when the savings are anticipated, the report said, adding that it was a violation of the state budget manual and the fiscal management.

“At the close of the year 2010-11, savings occurred in 26 grants and five appropriations but no part of it was surrendered by the departments concerned,” the report mentioned. Of the total grants of Rs 14,353.83 crore, the actual expenditure incurred was to the tune of Rs 111,10.68 crore, resulting in savings of Rs 3,762.45 crore, the report pointed out.

“According to the Jammu and Kashmir Financial code, rush in spending during the closing months of a financial year should be avoided. Contrary to this, in respect of 13 major heads, expenditure exceeding 10 crore for the year was incurred either during the last quarter or during the last month of the financial year 2010-11,” the report stated, while highlighting violation of the budgetary manual.

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