Auditor picks deficiencies in Himachal budget management

Shimla: Fiscal imbalances in the Himachal budget were highlighted in the Comptroller and Auditor Report for the year ending March, 2010 that was tabled in the Vidhan Sabha today as were several finding pointed out which showed lack of governance control over managing capital expenditure and leakages in tax realizations.

Making a detailed presentation about the CAG report, principal state auditor Rita Mitra said that the finances of state government had incurred an expenditure of Rs 4788 Cr on salaries and wages during 2009-10, which was Rs 1977 crore (70%) more than the budget projection (Rs 2811 Cr) for the year.

The salary expenditure was 61% percent of the revenue expenditure, which ismuch higher than the norm of 35% set out by the Thirteenth Finance Commission.

The government had invested Rs 2663 crore in statuory corporation, rural bank, joint stock companies and cooperative institutions till 2009-10. While the government raised high cost borrowing with interest rates varying from 8.59 to 9.40 % from the market during 2005-10, the returns on these investments was barely 1.65 percent, the auditor pointed out.

Central government transfers of Rs 923.48 Cr during the year though increased the state resources from Rs 19754 Cr to Rs 20,677 crore but the government was not monitoring the receipt-transfer of these funds, which made it difficult to verify by audit for establishing accountability of their usage, said Mitra.

Excess expenditure of Rs 887.80 during the year that needed to be regularized showed poor budgetary preparation as well as deficincines in financial management.

Whereas the 13th Finance commission has recommended a debt stock target of 25 % of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) to be achieved by 2014-15, but the state had a debt stock of 56 % of GSDP by end of year.

On financial reporting, the auditor commented that as many as 26,057 utilization certificates going back to works awarded till 9 years ago involving an amount of Rs 829.48 crore were yet to be furnished.

A performance review of state highways and major district roads revealed that funds allotted for maintenance were being issued on a 1997 rate card and had overlooked cost escalations of both labour and material. Fund provided at unrevised rates were insufficient to meet expenditure on maintenance thereby quality of roads, said the auditor.

The government had not shown Rs 707.69 crore collected as upfront premium for allotting power project between Rs 2007-10 as receipts and was irregularly deposited in reserve fund.

The auditor put the cost overrun for executing the 126 MW Largi hydropower project at Rs 1124.84 Cr. Review of the information technology audit of loan monitoring system at HP Financial Corporation found that it was deficient as the application restricted to calculate interest and generation of demand notices only.

The inaccurate, incomplete and erroneous data has rendered the system useless for generation of annual returns and for effective management information system.

Acceptance of defective statutory forms by assessing authorities about rate of tax for 34 dealers resulted in non levy of Rs 27.54 crores in six districts, the auditor points out.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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