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CAG report uncovers Nagaland Govt.’s financial indiscipline

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, MARCH 30: Shady financial dealings have long been the hallmark of Nagaland Government and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s audit report for the year ended on March 31, 2022 shows that the unhealthy tradition is well and alive.
According to the CAG, the provision of Minor Head 800-Other Expenditure/Other Receipts is intended to be operated only when the appropriate minor head has not been provided in the accounts. Routine operation of Minor Head-800 is to be discouraged since it renders the accounts opaque, it stated.
However, the CAG pointed out that during the fiscal year, expenditure of Rs 1,415.60 crore under 47 Revenue and Capital Major Heads, constituting 10.32% of Total Expenditure of Rs 13,713.54 crore was booked under Minor Head 800-Other Expenditure.
Similarly, receipts of Rs 283.98 crore under 40 Revenue Major Heads, constituting about 2.11% of Revenue Receipts of Rs 13,451.14 crore was booked under Minor Heads 800-Other Receipts under concerned Major Heads.
It also found that during fiscal 2021-22, there were 43 Major Heads under Receipts where the provision of Minor Head 800 was operated.
“Out of these 43 MHs, there were 32 MHs where other specific Minor Heads already existed. Similarly, it was noticed that there were 58 Major Heads under Expenditure where Minor Head 800 was operated. Out of these 58 MHs, there were 45 MHs where other specific Minor Heads already existed”, it pointed out.
According to the report, the CAG examined selected cases of booking under Minor Head 800 and noted that in some instances, a valid Minor Head, other than 800, was available in the List of Major and Minor Head (LMMH) for booking those transactions.
“This includes the expenditure under Development Authority of Nagaland and urban water supply, where an expenditure of Rs 10 crore (0.71% of total expenditure under 800) was booked in State Finance Accounts (2021-22)”, it stated.
The CAG underscored it was imperative that the State Government review all classifications of schemes being made under 800-Other Expenditure in the light of their depiction in the LMMH and after consultation with the Accountant General (A&E), classify them appropriately as per existing LMMH, or seek addition of new Minor Head, to bring transparency in accounts.
“Classification of large amounts under the omnibus Minor Head 800 affects transparency in financial reporting and distorts proper analysis of allocative priorities and quality of expenditure”, it asserted.
Abstract Contingent bills
According to the CAG, there were 335 Abstract Contingent (AC) bills worth Rs 532.83 crore pending for adjustment by submission of Detailed Countersigned Contingent (DCC) bills.
The drawal of contingent charges on items of expenditure by a State Government, for which final classification and supporting vouchers is not available at the time of drawal, are made on ‘Abstract Contingent’ (AC) Bills.
“During 2021-22, 28 AC bills amounting to Rs 22.83 crore were drawn and no DCC bills against the drawal of these bills has been submitted before the closing of the accounts for the financial year 2021-22 and, therefore, there is no assurance that the expenditure of Rs 22.83 crore has actually been incurred during the financial year for the purpose for which it was authorised by the Legislature.
“In addition to this, 307 AC bills amounting to Rs 510 crore drawn up to 2020-21 were also outstanding as on 31 March 2022. Thus, 335 AC bills involving Rs 532.83 crore were outstanding as of March 2022. Advances drawn and not accounted for increases the possibility of wastage/ misappropriation/malfeasance, etc.”, the report read.
The CAG explained that expenditure against AC bills at the end of the year indicates poor public expenditure management and may point to the drawal being done primarily to exhaust the budget provision. Non-adjustment of advances for long periods is fraught with the risk of misappropriation and therefore, requires close monitoring by the respective DDOs for ensuring submission of DCC bills, it added.
According to the CAG, there was an environment of financial indiscipline, “which calls for action against the officers responsible for the lapse in this regard”.
Follow-up action
The CAG also explained that in Nagaland, the Departments concerned are required to furnish a suo moto Explanatory Note (EN) on the paragraphs featuring in the Audit Reports within one month of placing the reports in the Legislature.
“The Government should, without waiting for any notice or call from the Public Accounts Committee, submit a suo moto Explanatory Note (EN) on the paragraphs featuring in the Audit Reports indicating the action taken or proposed to be taken within a period of three months from the date of laying of the Audit Reports.
“Government Departments shall invariably submit action taken notes (ATNs) on the recommendation of the PAC within a period of six months from the date of receipt of the PAC’s report from the Secretary/Commissioner Secretary, Assembly. This timeframe was further reduced by the PAC to two months”, it stated.
According to the CAG, the ATNs, on the recommendations of the PAC, for the year 2013-14 have been received while ATNs for the years from 2014-15 to 2020-21 were yet to be received as of December 2022.
(Page News Service)