India’s top auditing and planning bodies have decided to jointly monitor the Centre’s major flagship programmes to reduce apparent irregularities in utilisation of funds and improve their efficiency.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the government’s audit arm, has found grave inconsistencies in the utilisation of funds for many schemes.
In a report on evaluation of three major schemes between 2006 and 2009, the CAG highlighted improper identification of beneficiaries, diversion of funds, weak internal controls and poor performance evaluation as common problems.
Around 20 of the 150 centrally sponsored schemes accounted for half of the Centre’s 2010-11 plan fund of Rs 3,75,000 crore. These include the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme Scheme, National Rural Health Mission and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.
In the mid-day meal scheme, the CAG found that enrolment data from state governments was not consistent with that of the HRD ministry.
Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Tripura showed more children enrolled in schools than the total eligible children in their population.
In Bihar and Rajasthan, unregistered labourers were given wages. “Irregularities of preparation of false muster rolls was noticed in Jharkhand,” the CAG said in its report.
The plan panel has decided to make audit inputs part of fund releases from the Centre to streamline the financial flow and plug leakages. “Two instalments would be ensured but for the third, the state government will have to provide audited accounts of the first instalment,” a plan panel official said.
Either the CAG’s state-level offices or empanelled auditors will scrutinise fund utilisation.
It has also been proposed that the new system should replace the existing fund flow mechanism based on utilisation certificates, in which the CAG found huge discrepancies.
All centrally sponsored schemes will be given budget codes so expenditure can be tracked till the end point. “The CAG will help us in this job,” a senior panel official said. The system would include ground-level monitoring through independent evaluation organisations.