Utilisation certificates that help rule out misappropriation and frauds have not been submitted by various departments of the Gujarat government totalling to Rs 4,200 crore, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) pointed out in its latest report tabled in the state legislature on Friday.
Of the 2,573 pending utilisation certificates of grants given for specific purpose, 61 per cent have been pending for the last eight years or more. These certificates have to be submitted within 12 months of the closure of the financial year and should be forwarded to the office of Accountant General (Accounts and Entitlement), Rajkot. “Audit observed that 2,573 utilisation certificates, aggregating to Rs 4233.95 crore were outstanding as on March 31, 2019 for the grants released during the period 2001-02 to 2017-18,” stated the CAG report.
“In absence of utilisation certificates, there is no assurance that money disbursed have been used for the purpose for which they have been given. Moreover, high pendency of the certificates is fraught with the risk of misappropriation and fraud,” the country’s top watch dog stated.
Of the total pending utilisation certificates, 71 per cent amounting to Rs 2,995 crore pertains to the agriculture, farmers’ welfare and cooperation department, while 12.35 per cent amounting to Rs 522 crore pertains to the tribal development department.
Of the 81 utilisation certificates test checked by CAG, eight certificates received for grants disbursed between 2001-02 and 2017-18, Rs 2.7 crore remained unspent for one to 16 years and the unspent grants were not surrendered to the government account. These certificates belonged to health and family welfare, social justice and empowerment and tribal development departments. The audit also found utilisation certificates without necessary documents and counter signatures of the respective Head of Departments.
“A sound internal control and financial reporting mechanism may be instituted to identify the bottlenecks for delays in submission of utilisation certificates together with review of unspent balance lying with the grantee institutions for long periods,”the CAG recommended to the state government.
Similar, lacunae was noticed by CAG in the submission of detailed contigency bills worth Rs 440 crore. “Withdrawal of funds on Abstract Contingent (AC) Bills on large scale, and non-adjustment or settlement of substantial number of AC bills by way of submission of Detailed Contigency Bills by the state government is a matter of concern…Advances drawn and not accounted for also increases the possibility of wastages, misappropriation, malfeasance, etc,” the auditor observed.
The CAG also observed that expenditure through AC Bills should be done only for meeting contigent expenses and not for carrying out planned activites. “Audit observed that five Mamlatdars — of Ghatlodiya, Maninagar, Sabarmati, Vatva and Vejalpur in Ahmedabad — under the revenue department drew 13 AC Bills during 2017-18 for executing works for removal of encroachments on government land, though this was a planned activity for which provision was made in budget estimates of 2017-18,” the report added.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines