September 29, 2021 1:19:50 am
Pointing to “inaccurate assessments” and failure to utilise funds for intended purposes, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) highlighted the “sub-optimal” utilisation of budgeted funds by the Gujarat government in five years between 2015 and 2020.
In the State Finances Audit Report tabled in the Gujarat Assembly on Tuesday, the CAG highlighted three renewable energy projects, including the one for converting Modhera temple and nearby village as country’s first solar powered region, as examples where 100 per cent of the budgeted amount remained unutilised. “Utilisation of budget by the state government has been sub-optimal every year, during the last five years,” stated the country’s top auditor in the report. Presenting a chart, the auditor pointed out that the Gujarat government used 88.08 per cent of the its budget for 2015-’16. This percenatage of budget utilisation fell to 87.87 in 2019-’20.
“The state government could utilise its budget provisions to the extent of 89.98 per cent during the past five years. Large amount of savings in allocated funds indicate both inaccurate assessments of requirements, as well as inadequate capacity to utilise funds for intended purposes,” the CAG observed.
Pointing to the Rs 25,838 crore surrendered at end of March 2020, the auditor stated, “Budget provisions sought and obtained by some departments far in excess of actual requirement, and their inability to utilise the same, deprives allocation of resources to other priority sectors and also leads to poor legislative control over public finances.”
The CAG that said the entire budget provisions for the three renewable energy projects were surrendered due to inadequate planning. The budget of Rs 12.03 crore provided for solar project at Modhera Sun temple and the town was surrendered twice during 2018-’19 and 2019-’20.
“Lack of response from Government of India”, after the state government sent a revised proposal was citied as reason for non-utilisation of funds in 2018-’19. A year later, pending land acquisition and high tender prices quoted by the state-run Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (implementing agency) were reasons for non-utilisation of funds.
The other two projects, where Rs 10 crore and Rs 5 crore of allocated budget was surrendered during 2019-’20 includes assistance for rooftop projects for residential consumers and assistance for adoption of electric vehicles.
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