CAG flags 24 cases of irregularities involving Rs 348.57 cr in some Ministries, Departments

A CAG report has flagged 24 cases of irregularities involving Rs 348.57 crore related to four Ministries and Departments and four Central Public Sector Enterprises.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s Report No. 24 of 2022 – Union Government (Civil), table in Parliament on Tuesday, contains 24 illustrative cases of irregularities involving Rs 348.57 crore pertaining to four Ministries/Departments, four Central Public Sector Enterprises under their administrative control, and two Union Territories without Legislatures.

The report said that though the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had revised the rates for issue of fresh Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, 17 Missions/Posts in the Eurozone countries did not revise the same while three Missions/Posts in the UK adopted a lower rate of exchange for charging the OCI fees leading to loss of Rs 58.23 crore.

“The MEA, while admitting the observations stated that both MEA and Mission/Posts abroad, are responsible for revision of the OCI card fee in terms of local currency, based on Rate of Exchange (ROE) fluctuations but due to misinterpretation of the instructions that fixation of OCI Scheme fee is guided by the Ministry of Home Affairs, a notional revenue loss has occurred as Mission/Posts in the Europe did not implement the revised ROEs for local currencies in time,” said the report.

The report also said that MEA had purchased two properties for setting up Indian Cultural Centres (ICC) at Paris (2011) and Washington (2013) but could not get them renovated in time for use as such. Due to inherent deficiencies, such as significant structural concerns and issues of encroachment at ICC Washington, the expenditure incurred on purchase of property along with its renovation or refurbishment aggregating Rs 41.93 crore remained infructuous.

“Similarly, the property for ICC Paris procured at a cost of Rs 30.03 crore remained unused as of June 2022 with an irregular expenditure of Rs 14.89 crore on hiring a local security agency for an under-renovation building,” said the report.

Mentioning another instance, the CAG report said that Embassy of India, Beijing hired a firm for construction of Indian Embassy complex there. The audit observed that EoI, Beijing made avoidable payment of Rs 8.53 crore on account of escalation, even though the clause regarding escalation was not applicable as per the terms and conditions of the contract.

“Further, due to the issue of faulty lift, it withheld contractor’s payment for a period ranging between three and five years which led to avoidable payment of interest of Rs 1.58 crore to the contractor,” the report added.

The CAG report further said that the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances hired office space from State Trading Corporation of India Ltd, which required extensive renovation works to make it fit to occupy.

“Though the space was hired with effect from December 2020, the initiation of renovation process started only in September 2021. This resulted in infructuous expenditure aggregating Rs 13.26 crore towards rent for nine months from December 2020 to August 2021,” said the report.

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