HYDERABAD: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has dropped another bombshell. Two of the Union ministries—Health and Family Welfare and Power—released grants of over `26,000 crore in three years, but the auditor found no record of the beneficiaries. In a majority of cases, no MoUs were signed, violating a practice all departments must comply with.
While some grants were meant to create capital assets, the CAG, in its latest report on Union Government Finance Accounts, wondered if they met the purpose at all, while in some others, it didn’t rule out the possibility of fraud or misappropriation. As part of its annual routine, the CAG reviewed the sanctioning and monitoring mechanism of grants, quality and effectiveness of the expenditure incurred in the two ministries.
The analysis brought to light that during FY14 and FY16, both the ministries separately released grants running into crores, but no centralised records, including names of the grantees, details and nature of assets created, amount of grants utilised, ownership of assets, were maintained. This raises two concerns. Are funds being diverted for purposes other than intended? If so, what would be the magnitude of this irregularity if the CAG reviewed the other ministries?
Grants-in-aid are payments made by the government to government, bodies, institutions or individuals for operating expenses, capital asset creation and delivery of services. As per the General Financial Rules 2005, for grants of above `5 crore per annum, MoUs should be signed indicating output targets, programme details and commensurate input requirements.
However, the the Ministry of Health blatantly violated this norm, while the Ministry of Power provided no centralised records for verification.