NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has agreed to the Union Health Ministry’s request to include the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scheme in its annual audit to monitor flow of funds and utilisation in states. In the initial phase, 18 states, where the maximum funds were disbursed under the scheme, will be covered during 2011-12.
The states, which would be included for auditing for 2011-12, are: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttaranchal.
The NRHM, launched in 2005 by the UPA-I government, gives special focus to 18 states, including eight north-east (NE) states, which have weak public health indicators or weak infrastructure.
The government’s flagship health scheme had attracted widespread attention after the discovery of gross irregularities in Uttar Pradesh. The case is presently being investigated by the CBI under the direction of the Allahabad High Court. Earlier, the CAG had conducted Performance Audit (it is a special audit, separate from regular/annual audit) on the request of the Health Ministry for 2005-06 and 2007-08. The audit report, tabled in the Parliament in 2009, had pointed out several anomalies in the implementation of the scheme at the state level.
It had recommended to rationalise the fund flow arrangements for speedy transfer of funds from the Centre to states, states to districts and below, to minimise unspent balances, streamlining accounting procedures and proper maintenance of the accounts.
It has also recommended establishment of new infrastructure in health centres, and strengthening and capacity building of existing ones.
It has further requested the Union Health Ministry to put in place a monthly concurrent audit, in addition to annual statutory audit and periodic financial reviews of funds sent to the state governments.