R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Aug 11 – The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has identified a number of glaring irregularities in implementation of the transport subsidy scheme in the North East region, which resulted in wastage of huge amounts of government funds. The CAG has also stressed the need for making the rules for disbursement of transport subsidy more stringent to prevent leakage of government funds.
The transport subsidy scheme is applicable in North East region including Sikkim as well as in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakhwadeep and select districts of Uttarakhand and West Bengal. But there has been number of instances when the rules were flouted in disbursement of the transport subsidy resulted in leakage of funds.
Interestingly, the irregularities in disbursement of transport subsidy are going on for years and no concrete step has been taken to deal with the problem. The CAG pointed out that way back in 2001, the CAG found irregular disbursement of Rs 177.68 crore in states like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which constituted more than 70 percent of the total claims. But corrective steps were not taken in eight years when the matter was reviewed again in 2009. The CAG also recommended steps to recover the amount, but no step was taken by the concerned state Governments.
In a recent report, the CAG once again found a number of glaring irregularities in implementation of the scheme and pointed out that the stipulated procedure of pre-registration of units intending to claim transport subsidy was not followed strictly in a number of cases. The audits revealed
numerous instances of deviation from the guidelines for payment of transport subsidy. There have been instances of insufficient documentation for claiming subsidy and no follow up action was taken by the concerned state governments even after such irregularities were pointed out to them.
The CAG recommended that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) of the Ministry of Commerce should ensure that the State Governments fully comply with the norms. Periodic inspections of the units should be carried out and punitive action should be taken against any one found to be filing false claims. The delegation of power to grant waiver in case of pre-registration should be reviewed. To ensure authenticity, the DIPP should put in place a system to ensure cross verification of the subsidy claims with records of other departments like sales tax, transport, excise etc. The DIPP should also prepare a time bound action plan to address deficiencies in the scheme of else the very purpose of the scheme would be defeated, the report said.
Giving a few examples of irregularities, the CAG report said that of the 120 test checked cases, the state level committees passed claims worth Rs 61.78 crore without availability of sales tax and VAT assessments. Of these cases, 27 cases were in Assam. The CAG found that an amount of Rs 147.86 crore was paid without supporting documents like bank papers, NOC from the sales tax department etc and 45 such cases were identified in Assam only.