Table CAG reports on time, L-G tells CM

Saxena asked Kejriwal to ensure that a delay in tabling these reports does not occur in future, “to avoid wastage and misuse of public money.”

Saxena asked Kejriwal to ensure that a delay in tabling these reports does not occur in future, “to avoid wastage and misuse of public money.” | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena on Monday wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioning the delay on part of the government in tabling four Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Audit Reports in the Assembly in violation of existing rules and procedures.

The L-G asked the Chief Minister to act on the findings of the four reports, related to the years between 2017 and 2021, which were tabled in the Assembly simultaneously last month, and to ensure that a similar delay in tabling these reports does not occur in future “to avoid wastage and misuse of public money.”

In his letter, the L-G flagged several “irregularities of serious nature” in the accounts and finances of the Delhi government related to the Delhi Jal Board and state-owned PSUs.

According to a source in the L-G’s office, Mr. Saxena invoked Section 48 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, 1991, read with Article 151 of the Constitution, according to which reports of the CAG relating to the accounts of the Delhi government must be submitted to the L-G first before being tabled.

Repeated flags

The four CAG audit reports related to the Delhi government from the year 2017 to 2021 were, the L-G wrote, “pending until recently” with the office of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. The delay in tabling the reports, Mr. Saxena stated, “was repeatedly flagged” by his office with the last reminder being sent to the Delhi government on June 15.

“Eventually, all the above reports were laid before the Legislative Assembly on 05.07.2022 after a considerable gap of time. It is observed that many irregularities pointed out in the above reports are of serious nature requiring urgent attention,” the L-G wrote.

In addition to conducting an audit to ensure accountable governance, Mr. Saxena stated that timely action on observations made in the audit reports was “a key responsibility of the government” in the interest of the “judicious use of public funds.”

“Inordinate delay in laying the Audit Reports before the Legislative Assembly not only delayed timely corrective action but also indirectly resulted in perpetuating stated deficiencies, thus defeating the purpose of the audit in terms of ensuring efficiency, accountability and compliance with laid down rules and procedures,” the L-G said in his letter to the Chief Minister.

Mr. Saxena also questioned if tabling the reports in one go during the two-day session of the Delhi Assembly provided “enough opportunity for discussion and deliberations” in the House on the observations by the CAG, which were “serious in nature and called for in-depth introspection by all.”

The L-G referred to the issues flagged in these reports, including the “irregular diversion” of grants-in-aid received for the development of capital assets by the DJB for “other purposes” without the approval of the Urban Development Department, and the provision of piped water supply to only 353 unauthorised colonies as of March 2018 as opposed to all the 1,797.

Accumulated losses

Issues related to the State Finances Audit Report, part of one of the CAG reports, for the year ending March 31, 2019, were also flagged by the L-G, such as seven state government companies, with an investment of ₹6,929.93 crore, having accumulated losses of ₹31,724 crore.

Another CAG report also included details about losses suffered by Delhi’s power companies — Delhi Power Company Limited which lost ₹1360 crore and Delhi Transco Limited which reported a ₹12,016 crore loss — as well as by the Delhi Transport Corporation, which suffered a loss of ₹29,143 crore.

A CAG report, for the year 2019-20, reveals that supplementary grants amounting to ₹810.86 crore in 11 cases were obtained in anticipation of higher/additional expenditure but the final expenditure was “even less than the original grant.”

The L-G asked the Chief Minister to take the required action on these findings.

“In the larger public interest and in the interest of good governance I will once again urge you to ensure that in future the reports of the CAG relating to the GNCTD are laid in time before the Legislative Assembly,” the L-G added.

The Delhi government did not offer a comment.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 11:46:11 am |