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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Musical (Rotting) Chairs

Opposition Leader Beig Accuses the NC Government of the exact same failings that he NC accused him of when he was the Finance Minister in the PDP Government

Beig Grills Govt Over CAG Report, Timing

Arvind Sharma (Rising Kashmir)

Jammu: Castigating the state government for rendering democratic institutions like Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly as ineffective, former Deputy Chief Minister, Muzaffar Hussain Beig, not only questioned the timing of tabling of CAG report for the year 2010-11 in the Assembly but has also slammed the government over disturbing disclosures made in the CAG report in which 8 to 10 departments have been named for misappropriation, embezzlement as well as excessive and unauthorised spending without budgetary provision.

He said that CAG in its concluding report said, “Lack of response to audit indicated inaction against the defaulting officers, and facilitated continuation of serious financial irregularities and loss to government even after pointed out in audit” shows that the government does not respond.

Addressing a press conference here today, Beig, while questioning the timing of tabling of CAG report said, “The report was tabled in the House on the last day of the session along with 10 to12 bills with a sheer political purpose so that the opposition doesn’t get time to pinpoint the failures and misdeeds of the government. There was also an important Bill of political reservation to SCs and STs that was introduced on the last day. We also support reservation to SCs and STs.

Had the Bill been introduced earlier we would have brought an amendment of reservation for 20 years instead of 10 years”. Referring to CAG report, he said, “Out of total original Grants of Rs 28920.27 crores including Rs 1998.27 crores as supplementary, Rs 31288.58 crores were spent which shows that excessive Rs 2368.11 crores were spent unauthorizedly without the permission of the Assembly.

Beig further said, “In some grants the expenditure is excessive while in others the expenditure is without the provision of funds. In 11 Grants, the excessive expenditure is 6130.76 crores, while in 18 Grants the expenditure is short by 3762.45 crores”. Citing the report, he added, “The state government has not furnished the countersigned bills for Rs 1933.04 crores drawn on the AC bills for a long time, which amounts to misappropriation”. Regarding non-reconciliation of Rs 6923.89 crores as of October 2011 by 38 controlling officers, Beig said, “You have to submit and reconcile the amount spent every month. But for the entire year it was not done, so how can you know where the amount has been spent?. Moreover, there is non-submission of utilization certificates and accounts.”

Again, referring to the report regarding revenue expenditure, he said, “The government’s excuse in the CAG report that the revenue expenditure registered steep rise because of 6th Pay Commission arrears appears to be false because the projected wages and salaries for 2010-11 were Rs 13173 crores whereas actual were only Rs 7772 crores.” He added, “This shows that Rs 6000 crores were saved from salaries. Then why the arrears were not paid to the employees?. The government should have either paid the arrears or should have employed atleast 2 lakh youth for 4 years with atleast Rs 3000 as stipend per month”. Citing the report, he also said that huge amount works were allotted without tenders and works amounting to Rs 62.85 crores were executed through mates out of the total expenditure of Rs 473.52 crores incurred during March alone.
This subverted the tendering procedure and caused a loss of Rs 6.60 crores of sales tax in one month alone. Pointing towards under spending as mentioned in the report, he said,

“In 12 grants there was under-spending to the tune of Rs 3762.45 crores in 2010-11 in which main offenders were Planning and Development, Finance, Education, CAPD, PWD, PHE and others,” Beig said, questioning, “How the Planning and Development and Finance Department cannot spend the same, they are supposed to give the amount to other departments which are in dire need of money?. If you can’t spend give it to other departments. School buildings are in shambles, there is shortage of ration, even then these departments also recorded huge unspent money”.

Beig added that this was the reason that they tabled the report on the last day so that they can avoid criticism and humiliation.

Citing the report further, he said, “In violation of budget manual, Rs 565.42 crores were spent by every single department including, Planning and Development, Finance, Education, Power Development, Industries and Commerce, Health and Medical Education, Revenue and others in 2010-11 without any provision in the budget and without any appropriation orders, which is an offence”.

Branding the month of March as Magic March by equating the big spending by various departments in this month as cited in the CAG report he said, “A very fishy and suspicious phenomenon is the rush of expenditure during the month of March. Planning and Development department spent 51%, Law department spent 77%, Industries and Commerce department spent 65%, Tourism 61%. Similarly, other departments also spent more than 50% during this month”.

He further said, “Government failed to achieve its goal set in fiscal policy statement for the year 2010-11. Like, for Tax revenue/GSDP (ratio), the assessment was Rs 13.74 crores but the target achieved was Rs 7.30 crores. The assessment for power receipts was Rs1209 crore but the target achieved was Rs 882 crores”. He added that only the Finance Department is responsible for not achieving the targets. Citing the report, he added, “CAG in its report for the year 2010-11 has also detected offences, irregularities, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation and wasteful expenditure in various departments including, Roads and Buildings, Health and Medical Education, Tourism, PDD, PWD, PHE, RDD and other departments.

Taking a dig at Finance Minister, Beig said, “There is shortage of staff in Health in all constituencies in Kashmir except Chara-e-Sharief. There are 25 institutions in excess. The staff is also in excess We love people of Char-e-Sharief, they are our people but we have objection to misuse of power and ignoring of others”

Beigh Totally Off-track on CAG Report: Govt

‘Naive comments from Ex-Finance Minister astonishing’

Jammu: A government spokesman while re-acting to the press statement given by the former Deputy Chief Minister and PDP leader, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, has totally refuted the uncalled for and unjustified inferences drawn by him out of the CAG’s report for the year ended 31st March, 2011, laid by the Government on the table of the House during the just concluded budget session.

It is well known to all the persons connected with the financial management of the government, especially to the members of the Legislature that CAG’s Report is thoroughly examined by the Standing House Committees viz. Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Undertakings Committee (PUC). A detailed examination takes place in presence of the Accountant General. The concerned Administrative Secretaries and senior representatives of the Finance Department are present in all such sittings of the PAC and PUC as witnesses to be cross-examined by the Members of the House Committee. The Committees thereafter, draw their final conclusions and make appropriate recommendations for further action.

This procedural aspect should be well known to Beigh as he has remained State’s Finance Minister for few years. During his time also no occasion arose to discuss the report of the CAG in the Legislative Assembly immediately after its presentation in the House. The members of the main opposition party PDP, including Beigh did not raise the issue or sought time for discussion on the CAG’s Report after the same was laid by the Finance Minister before the House.

Therefore, his allegation that the government wanted to avoid any discussion on the report is purely an after-thought and a ploy to create sensation among the people. The fact is that the report is the property of the House and any member can raise any point pertaining to the same in any subsequent session of the Legislature, if he so likes.

The spokesman strongly refuted the allegation concerning financial controls exercised by the government. There is a well established constitutional procedure for presentation, passing and the release of budgetary provisions. At the time of incurring expenditure, it is mandatory on the part of the executive to follow the procedure laid down for dealing with the ‘Excesses’ and ‘under utilization’ of allocations to meet the technical needs. The ‘revised estimates’ are prepared for seeking approval of the Legislature through ‘re-appropriation accounts’. This practice has been always followed in the past. This was being done even during the time of Beigh as Finance Minister, if he cares to look into the CAG reports for the relevant years. The budget manual prescribes for seeking fresh approval of the Legislature if the funds are reallocated from one Demand for Grants to another or from ‘capital account’ to ‘revenue account’ or vice versa.

Certain figures have been thrown up by Beigh which are imaginary. For example, to salary expenditure figure of over `13,000 crore for the year 2010-11 to which the current CAG report pertains. Actual salary expenditure projected in the budget estimates was only ` 8,200 crore which was subsequently reported at ` 8,111 crore in the Revised Estimates. The actual expenditure figure given by CAG is quite near to both these estimated figures.

Beigh’s assertion that the money saved out of salary and because of under utilization of funds under Central Schemes and other plan programs should have been utilized for employing two lakh additional persons and for payment of arrears of pay revision is beyond any comments, the spokesman added. While the funds under the Central and Centrally Sponsored Schemes are released in installments and the expenditure is monitored by the Central Ministries, the plan expenditure is also released in installments by the Ministry of Finance in a similar manner. Any savings out of these allocations are not available for utilization by the government at its sweet will, particularly after all the grants have been voted by the Legislature only for specific purposes.

The statement of Beigh, the spokesman said, appears to be reflective of his frustration and that of the opposition party to which he belongs, after the State Budget met with wide ranging appreciation within and outside the House.

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