Aarti Dhar

Maintenance of accounts not proper, it says

Most States yet to adopt e-banking

Delay in release of funds from State health societies to district health societies

NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has expressed dissatisfaction over the funds flow management under the National Rural health Mission (NRHM) and recommended that it be rationalised with appropriate norms and criteria.

The maintenance of accounts at the State, district and below levels was not proper and concurrent audit of accounts, initiated under the Mission, was only at the nascent stage, it said.

During 2005-08, a budgetary provision of Rs. 27,079 crore was made for the NRHM and, against this, an expenditure of only Rs. 24,151 crore was incurred, it pointed out.

Creation of a parallel fund flow route through a set of societies at the State and district levels did not result in faster disbursement of funds. There were delays in release of funds from the State Health Societies (SHS) to the District Health Societies (DHS) and finally to the health centres, which led to delay in implementation of the Mission, the CAG said in its report.

Also, the Ministry’s efforts at e-banking suffered from delays and most States were yet to adopt e-banking. Moreover, many high-focus States, where health indicators were poor, received relatively lesser Central grants, as high unspent balances of previous years remained, indicating that there was need to focus on capacity building, it said.

The management of funds and accounts were below par, resulting in suboptimal use of money and improper accounting.

For instance, in 2007-08, the Ministry incorrectly released Rs. 174.84 crore under the Mission Flexible Pool to four States due to deficient assessment of State Programme Implementation (PIPs) or non-observance of the National Programme Coordination Committee’s directive issued while according approval to the PIPs.

Similarly, Rs. 337.04 crore was short accounted as unspent balance and an excess release of the same amount under the Flexi-Pool was made in 2007-08.

Various existing programmes such as the Empowered Action Group Scheme, Reproductive and Child Health-I and the National Maternity Benefit Scheme were closed down with the initiation of the NRHM, but the unutilised balances of Rs. 133.40 crore under these programmes was not settled and remained with the States.

Also, there was a diversion of Rs. 223.02 crore, released under the NRHM for various activities, for funding activities other than for which funds were released.

States’ contribution

Importantly, the State governments were required to contribute 15 per cent towards the Mission since 2007-08. But during this period, only Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and West Bengal and, during 2008-09, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland contributed the full or more than the required share.

As many as 18 States and two Union Territories did not contribute while the contribution made by others in 2007-08 was less than 15 per cent.

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