CAG asks Himachal to prune unproductive expenditure

Shimla: Containing runaway expenditure and improving collection of non-tax revenue could help the state in its path of fiscal correction and reduce dependence upon central borrowed funds Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has pointed out even as it red flagged an accumulated public debt of Rs 26,415 crores.

Increase tax compliance, reduce tax administration costs, collect revenue arrears and prune unproductive expenditure to curtail deficit, CAG recommends in the report laind in the Vidhan Sabha on Friday.

Making a reference to commitments made in the 2010-11 budget speech CAG has pointed out that against the budgeted total expenditure of Rs 15,078.92 crore for  the year, the government expenditure touched 15,961.60 Crore.

Whereas the budgeted pension expenditure was Rs 1850 Cr, it exceeded estimates by Rs 255.39 Cr and stood at Rs 2105.39 crore, the report records.

Compliance of financial reporting showed that utilization certificates UCs for Rs 907.68 crore had not been received till March 2011, which included 262 UCs worth Rs 29.03 crores being delayed by more the five years.

Departmental proceedings and criminal investigations in 48 cases involving misappropriation of Rs 79.78 lakhs spanning 1 to 25 year period was still to be initiated.

In five years government liabilities have increased from Rs 18,071 Cr in 2006-07 to Rs 26,415 Cr in 2010-11, an increase of 46.17 percent.

Transfers and grants in aid from central government constitute 58% of total state revenue receipts, the report mentions.

Concern was expressed at rising expenditure of Rs.5,951 crore on wages and salaries, which was higher by 33 percent (Rs 1496 Cr) over the previous year.

The government borrowings between 2006-11 were at an average interest of 8.81 percent but government investments of Rs 2864 Cr in statutory corporations, rural banks,  joint stock companies and cooperatives was only earning 1.78 percent returns.

An excess expenditure of Rs 1444.32 Cr incurred during 2008-10 that what was permitted by the state legislature was yet to regularized and for the year 2010-11 an excess expenditure of Rs 2237.64 crore also needed to regularized, the auditor points out.

In a performance review of the Public Distribution System (PDS), the auditor mentions that while a 2006-07 survey recorded 2.82 below poverty line (BPL) families out of 11.83 lakh families in the state but the government adopted 5.14 lakh BPL families as estimated by the central government in year 2000 which has impacted the states allocation of food grains.

Censuring the state for not weeding out ineligible and bogus ration cards, CAG has also pointed out that deficient quality controls led to 2066.47 meteric tons of pulses and 1167.26 MTs of food grains being supplied to consumers.

About functioning of sewerage schemes, the auditor mentions that Rs 12.33 crore made available to Shimla under JNNURM during 2009-10 till September, 2011 remained utilized.

Targets of completing 16 sewerage schemes elsewhere during 2006-11 were short by as much as 69 percent.

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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