BHUBANESWAR: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has flagged gross negligence in submitting utilisation certificates (UCs) of funds released by the Odisha government in 2021-22. As per the CAG report on annual accounts for 2021-22 tabled in the Assembly on Friday, UCs amounting to Rs 1,342.34 crore about 17 departments are pending for over 10 years.
The state government had released Rs 25,930.97 crore during the financial year 2021-22 against which utilisation certificates were to be submitted by the recipients. The audit found around 70 per cent UCs of Rs 18,104.15 crore were not received by June 30, 2022.
“Therefore, no assurance that the expenditure of Rs 18,104.15 crore had been utilised for the purpose for which it was authorised. Pendency in the submission of UCs is fraught with the risk of fraud and misappropriation of funds,” the CAG pointed out. The audit observed an amount of Rs 1,338.20 crore had been misclassified as capital expenditure for the financial year 2021-22 resulting in an understatement of revenue expenditure by that amount.
As per data published by the Ministry of Mines, the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) trusts constituted in Odisha, had, as of March 2022, received a contribution of 18,730.27 crores, from mining lease holders and spent Rs 9,759.38 crore, leaving a balance of Rs 8,970.89 crore in the individual bank accounts of the DMF trusts in the state.
In a similar case of contributions to the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET), the Centre ensures that the donations from mining lease holders are first collected in the public account of the state concerned and then transferred to the consolidated fund of India and finally, through an appropriation, transferred to the NMET fund, which has been opened under the public account of India.
“Along the same accounting arrangements, the balance amount of Rs 8,970.89 crore available in the bank accounts of the DMF trusts in Odisha should have been maintained as part of the public account of the state,” the CAG report stated.
As per the annual accounts report, the actual gross expenditure was Rs 1,58,016.78 crore and a reduction of expenditure (recoveries) was Rs 4,219.81 against a projected gross expenditure of Rs 1,95,723.37 crore and a reduction of expenditure of Rs 46,376.24 crore, respectively resulting in net savings of Rs 37,706.59 crore.
The outstanding public debt by March 2022 was Rs 72,485 crore comprising internal debt of Rs 53,977 crore and loans and advances of Rs 18,508 crore from the Central government. While the public debt has dropped from Rs 79,503 crore, total public debt and other liabilities stood at Rs 1,20,140 crore by the end of 2021-22.