‘927 inspection reports involving Rs 2266 cr remained outstanding’
ATN about 88 paragraphs of audit pending for years together
JAMMU, 1st May: Expressing grave concern over the departments’ unexpected and late response to inspection reports and other findings, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has requested the Union Territory Government to Jammu and Kashmir to ensure Audit Committee meetings to monitor progress and strict compliance with rules and procedures.
The Senior Accountant General (Audit), Jammu and Kashmir conducts periodic inspections of government departments to test transactions, verify maintenance of important accounts and other records in accordance with rules and procedures.
These inspections are followed by Inspection Reports (IR) incorporating the findings, which are delivered to the heads of inspected offices with a copy to higher authorities for prompt corrective action. The Head of Office is required to take necessary corrective action on observations contained in IRs, rectify defects and omissions, and report on compliance through an initial response to the PAG (audit) within four weeks of the date of receipt of the IRs. Serious financial irregularities should be reported to the head of the department and to the government.
However, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) pointed out that inspection reports released through December 2019 regarding State Taxes, State Excise, Motor Vehicles and Legal Department revealed that 5 006 paragraphs relating to IR 927, involving Rs 2,266.10 crore, remained outstanding. end of June 2020.
As of June 2018, 811 IRs were pending settlement, 859 IRs were pending settlement as of June 2019, and 927 IRs were pending as of June 2020. Similarly, 4,111 audit observations were pending as of June 2018, 4,539 in June 2019 and 5,006 in June 2020.
“The audit received no response from Heads of Office within four weeks of the date of issue for all 82 IRs issued in 2019-20. This significant expectation of the RIs due to the non-receipt of responses is indicative of the fact that the Heads of Offices and Departments have not taken action to rectify the defects, omissions and irregularities noted by the PAG (Audit) through the RI. “, said the CAG, adding that “5,119 paragraphs relating to IR 945 involving Rs 2,304.96 crore remaining outstanding at the end of the year 2019-2020 indicated that adequate measures were not taken by departments, leading to an increase in IRs and outstanding paragraphs”.
In January 2021, the government established an audit committee for heads of departments under the administrative control of the Ministry of Finance, J&K to monitor and ensure compliance and resolution of audit observations in suspense/Paras in accordance with Regulation 145 of the Audit and Accounts Regulations 2020 issued by the CAG of India.
The CAG has now recommended that the government advise relevant departments to hold frequent audit committee meetings at least three meetings per quarter to monitor the progress of the settlement of the paragraphs and also to ensure that claims/recoveries are dealt with at weather.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Finance Department had issued instructions in June 1997 to all administrative departments to provide suo-moto action notes (ATNs) on all audit paragraphs contained in the reports to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) regardless of whether they have been reviewed by the Committee or not.
These NTAs were to be submitted to the Committee duly approved by the Principal Accountant General (Audit) within three months of the date of presentation of the audit reports to the Legislative Assembly. It was, however, noted that out of 110 audit paragraphs in the revenue sector chapters of the audit reports from 2000-01 to 2015-167, suo-moto NTAs for 88 audit paragraphs had not been received until as of March 31, 2020.
Auditable entities under various departments are categorized into high, medium and low risk units based on their revenue position, past trends in audit observations and other parameters. The annual audit plan is prepared on the basis of a risk analysis which includes, among others, critical issues regarding government revenue and tax administration. During the 2019-2020 year, there were 398 auditable units (state tax, excise, transportation and duty) of which 129 (32%) units were scheduled for audit and 82 units (64%) were audited , the CAG pointed out.