Assam government failed to address irregularity queries of Rs 2,15,286 crore in 25 years: CAG

GUWAHATI: The Assam government is yet to settle queries regarding alleged irregularities to the tune of Rs 2,15,286 crore highlighted by the CAG in various departments over a span of 25 years since 1994, according to the latest report of the public auditor tabled in the state assembly.

In its report on social, economic (non-PSUs), and general sectors for the financial year that ended on March 31, 2019, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said that the alleged irregularities were pointed out in 2,734 inspection reports (IRs) issued between 1994-95 and 2018-19 covering 55 departments of the state government.

“We report that on IRs issued up to December 2018, 39,479 paragraphs pertaining to 6,385 IRs were outstanding for settlement at the end of June 2019,” said the report, which was tabled during the ongoing Budget Session of the Assam assembly.

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These IRs are related to various departments like Public Health Engineering, PWD, Water Resource, Irrigation and Inland Water Transport, and other civil departments, it said.

“Of these, 1,208 IRs containing 5,262 paragraphs had not been replied to/settled for more than 10 years.

Even initial replies, which were required to be received from the heads of offices within four weeks from the date of issue, were not received from 55 departments in respect of 2,734 IRs containing 20,575 paragraphs issued between 1994-95 and 2018-19.

“As a result, serious irregularities commented upon through 39,591 paragraphs involving Rs 2,15,285.77 crore, had not been addressed as of June 2019,” the CAG said.

Giving a break-up of the figure, the auditor said that alleged irregularities of Rs 24,240.61 crore were related to non-observance of rules in respect of custody and handling of cash, maintenance of cash book and muster roll.

Pending utilisation certificate and audited accounts of grant-in-aids resulted in possible irregularities of Rs 9,381.61 crore, while the delay in recovery of receipts, advances and other charges added up to alleged irregularities of Rs 8,821.35 crore.

The CAG said that the actual payees’ receipts wanting was estimated at Rs 7,309.12 crore, non-receipt of securities from persons holding cash and stores stood at Rs 1,056.29 crore, and non-recovery of overpayments were found to be at Rs 673.62 crore.

Not maintaining stores properly cost the exchequer Rs 602.28 crore, while Rs 155.54 crore alleged irregularities have been attributed to the want of sanction to write-off loans and losses, it said.

The CAG has further put Rs 1,63,045.36 crore of alleged irregularities under the head “others”.

“Non-receipt of replies to the IRs in respect of the 55 departments were indicative of the failure on the part of the heads of departments (directors/executive engineers) to initiate action with regard to defects, omissions and irregularities pointed out by audit,” the report stated.

The commissioners and secretaries, who are superiors to directors and executive engineers concerned, were informed of the status of these IRs through half-yearly reports, but they too “failed to ensure prompt and timely action” by the officers of the respective departments, it said.

“The above-mentioned facts also indicate inaction against the defaulting officers thereby facilitating continuation of serious financial irregularities and potential loss to the government though these were pointed out in the audit,” the CAG said.

The report noted that the government had constituted one Audit Objection Committee (AOC) in May 2018 to discuss the outstanding audit objections up to 2017-18.

It has so far discussed 1,102 IRs and 5,512 paragraphs, of which only 91 IRs and 981 paragraphs have been settled.

The CAG recommended that the state government reviews the matter and ensure an effective system for action against defaulting officials who fail to reply to the IRs; recover losses, outstanding advances and overpayments, and revamp the entire mechanism for prompt and timely responses to audit observations.