J&K Acting As Mute Spectator To Whopping Financial Irregularities

31 March 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

Jammu: In what could be termed as height of insensitivity towards grave financial indiscipline and loss to the Government, majority of the departments in Jammu and Kashmir are acting as mute spectator to whopping financial irregularities being pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) instead of taking corrective measures to revamp the system. Moreover, several autonomous bodies are showing reluctance year after year in submission of annual accounts for the audit despite getting grants worth hundreds of crores from the Government. The audit process of CAG starts with the risk assessment of various departments, autonomous bodies, schemes-projects, criticality- complexity of activities, level of delegated financial powers, internal controls and concerns of stakeholders and previous audit findings. Based on this risk assessment, the frequency and extent of audit are decided and an annual audit plan is formulated. After completion of audit, Inspection Report containing audit findings is issued to the head of the office for furnishing replies within one month. Whenever replies are received, audit findings are either settled or further action for compliance is advised. During the last few years, CAG has reported on several significant deficiencies in implementation of various programmes-activities as well as on the quality of internal controls in selected departments, which have negative impact on the success of programmes and functioning of the departments. The focus was on auditing the specific programmes-schemes and to offer suitable recommendations to the executive for taking corrective action and improving service delivery to the citizens. Five Performance Audits and 36 Paragraphs proposed to be included in the report of CAG for the year ended March 31, 2014 were sent to the Principal Secretaries-Secretaries of the respective departments. However, replies in respect of one Performance Audit and nine Paragraphs were not received till October 2014. According to the data of CAG, there was opening balance of 8037 Inspection Reports and 29751 Paragraphs as on April 1, 2013 and during the year 2013-14, there was addition of 1216 Inspection Reports and 8059 Paragraphs. However, during the year 2013-14, only 735 Inspection Reports and 5185 Paragraphs were settled by the departments. Due to this, 8518 Inspection Reports and 32625 Paragraphs were pending for disposal by the departments as on March 31, 2014. 'This is despite the fact that 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 issued by the Principal Accountant General (Audit) and Accountant General (Audit) to ensure remedial action and fix accountability for the deficiencies and lapses', the CAG regretted. 'The pendency of large number of Inspection Reports and Paragraphs of serious financial irregularities and loss to Government even after being pointed out in Audit clearly indicates lack of response of the Government departments', the report said, adding 'Government should not act as mute spectator to lack of responsiveness of departments to Audit and revamp the system'. The CAG has also brought to the fore that a total of 365 annual accounts of 32 Autonomous Bodies were awaited in Audit as on March 31, 2014. Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils of Leh and Kargil, Sher-i-Kashmir Universities of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu and Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir Legal Services Authority, Srinagar and Provident Fund Organization, Srinagar have not submitted 67 accounts during the period ranging between one to 19 years. 'These Autonomous Bodies are not submitting accounts despite the fact that they are getting substantial funding from the State', the CAG said, adding 'this is a serious financial irregularity persisting for years'. It is pertinent to mention here that during 2013-14 financial year, these Autonomous Bodies received Rs 831.28 crore grants from the State.