CAG report pulls up BMC on transparency, fund utilisation; flags non-sharing of COVID-19 expenditure records
The report stated that records relating to the expenditure for the management of COVID-19 pandemic were not produced despite repeated requests to the civic body
A report prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the functioning of Mumbai's civic body has highlighted the lack of transparency and planning as well as careless use of funds and flagged non-sharing of COVID-19 management expenditure records.
The CAG report, which was tabled in the Maharashtra Assembly on Saturday by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, scrutinized expenditure of Rs 12,023.88 crore made by nine departments of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation between November 28, 2019 and October 31, 2022.
Several works were awarded without tendering or choosing proper contractors, including one case of an influent pumping station in which, the report said, malafide intentions cannot be ruled out.
The CAG report also stated that records relating to the expenditure for the management of COVID-19 pandemic were not produced despite repeated requests to the civic body by the Office of the Accountant General (Audit)-I, Maharashtra.
The non-production of these records, apart from impinging on constitutional responsibilities devolved on the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, also deprived the BMC of crucial audit inputs, which would have been beneficial for any course correction and systemic improvements, the report said.
It said the BMC did not allow inquiry into expenditure of funds to the tune of Rs 3538.73 crore citing the pandemic act.
No confirmation can be made in the audit on the propriety, efficiency, economy and effectiveness of BMC's expenditure for COVID-19 management at this juncture due to the absence of these records, the report added.
Speaking in the House, Fadnavis said the probe was restricted to only Rs 12,000 crore and more irregularities would have been unearthed if the entire functioning of the civic body was taken into account.
On BJP MLA Ameet Satam's demand that the case be handed over to the Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau and an FIR be registered, Fadnavis said the special audit report will be submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature and appropriate action would be taken if any instance of corruption is found.
As per the report, the audit observed that BMC awarded 20 works across two departments valuing Rs 214.48 crore without inviting tenders, which was against the Manual of Procurement of the civic body as well as established vigilance guidelines.
Further, in 64 works costing 4,755.94 crore across five departments, formal agreements were not executed between the contractors and BMC, in the absence of which the civic body would not be able to take any legal recourse against these contractors in the event of default, the report said.
Moreover, in 13 works costing Rs 3,355.57 crore across three departments, third-party auditors were not appointed to ascertain the quality and quantity of works executed by the contractors, which points to scant respect for established procedures and weak internal controls in BMC, the report said.
This had led to a lack of transparency and probity in execution of works taken up at significant cost, the report said, adding that specific findings observed during the audit of the departments highlight the major systemic problems, poor planning and careless use of funds by the BMC.
These irregularities have been brought to the notice of the state Urban Development for necessary remedial action to eliminate malfeasance and to improve the overall performance of BMC in order to ensure integrity in the use of public funds, the CAG report said.