Special Correspondent

Says audit report is politically motivated

Alleges auditors overstepped their mandate

Says his clarification not sought

Thiruvananthapuram: Mayor C. Jayan Babu, on Wednesday, came down heavily on officials of the Local Fund Audit department, accusing them of overstepping their mandate and coming up with a politically motivated audit report designed to tarnish the image of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the city Corporation.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Babu alleged that some of the remarks on the administration of the corporation in the audit report for 2007-08 were intended to whip up public opinion against the LDF. “The report was leaked out to the media with the same objective.”

Mr. Babu said the officials were well within their rights to point out irregularities in utilisation of funds. “But they do not have a mandate to sit in judgement on the administration of the local body or comment on the Mayor’s performance.” He said the auditors had not sought his clarification or observation on any of the anomalies pointed out in the report. This, he observed, was a violation of audit rules.

Referring to the portion in the report on the Mayor’s failure to attend committee meetings, he said it was not possible for him to participate in every committee on which he was a chairman or ex-officio member. “The auditors have no right to express opinion on the Mayor’s attendance.”

Mr. Babu said the audit department was also not authorised to examine confidential reports on the corporation secretary and other employees or assess the performance of standing committees. “The very spirit of the audit system will be undermined if auditors succumb to political prejudice.”

He said the corporation had spent Rs.40.22 lakh on rehabilitation of cancer patients. “The audit report, however, says that an amount of Rs.42 lakh earmarked for the project had been allowed to lapse. This represents a failure to understand things in proper perspective.”

Referring to the observation about the failure to check unauthorised constructions in the city, he said 169 cases had been registered during the year. “The legal process, however, takes time,” he pointed out.

He, however, said the observations of the audit report about the utilisation of funds would be examined seriously and placed before the Corporation Council for discussion.

He said the corporation would move the Finance Minister against the audit department.

Asked about the poor utilisation of development funds and maintenance grant pointed out in the District Planning Committee’s latest assessment, he said the percentage figures in the periodic review represented the delay in payment for works undertaken by the corporation and not actual performance. “There has been some delay on account of the staff shortage in the corporation.”

Deputy Mayor V. Jayaprakash said the corporation had utilised 83 per cent of funds last year to register the highest figure among local self-government institutions in the State. “We expect to maintain the record this year also,” he added.