The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has discovered 24 cases of irregularities worth Rs 348.57 crore involving four Ministries and Departments and four Central Public Sector Enterprises, news agency IANS reported on Tuesday quoting the report.
The Report No. 24 of 2022 – Union Government (Civil) of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, tabled 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.
According to the report, while the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) revised the rates for issuing new Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, 17 Missions/Posts in the Eurozone did not, and three Missions/Posts in the UK adopted a lower rate of exchange for charging the OCI fees, resulting in a loss of Rs 58.23 crore.
“While admitting the observations, the MEA stated that both the MEA and the Mission/Posts abroad are responsible for revising the OCI card fee in terms of local currency, based on Rate of Exchange (ROE) fluctuations, but due to misinterpretation of the instructions that the fixation of the OCI Scheme fee is guided by the Ministry of Home Affairs, a notional revenue loss has occurred as Mission/Posts in Europe did not implement the revised ROEs for local currencies in time,” said the report.
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According to the report, MEA purchased two properties for the establishment of Indian Cultural Centres (ICC) in Paris (2011) and Washington (2013) but was unable to rehabilitate them in time for use as such. Due to intrinsic flaws, such as serious structural challenges and encroachment issues at ICC Washington, the Rs 41.93 crore spent on the purchase of property and its rehabilitation or refurbishment remained infructuous.
“Similarly, the property purchased for the ICC Paris at a cost of Rs 30.03 crore remained unused as of June 2022, with an irregular expenditure of Rs 14.89 crore on employing a local security agency for an under-renovation building,” the report stated.
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In another case, the CAG report stated that the Embassy of India in Beijing contracted a business to build the Indian Embassy complex there. The audit found that EoI, Beijing made an avoidable payment of Rs 8.53 crore due to escalation, despite the fact that the escalation clause was not applicable under the contract’s terms and circumstances.
“Further, due to the issue of faulty lift, it withheld contractor’s payment for a period ranging between three and five years, resulting in the avoidable payment of Rs 1.58 crore to the contractor,” the report continued.
According to the CAG report, the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances rented office space from State Trading Corporation of India Ltd, which required major renovations before it could be occupied.
“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,” according to the report.
(With Inputs From IANS)