Chinese goods have made their way into army canteens, and the country’s top auditor is not amused.
In its latest report tabled in Parliament, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) stated that products for everyday use — otherwise available locally — were being imported from China and sold in Canteen Stores Department (CSD) outlets.
The report said the presence of China-made blankets, doormats, raincoats, slippers and handbags on CSD shelves “lacked justification”, and worked against the central government’s initiative of encouraging domestic small scale industries.
“Further, no independent inspection of the imported items introduced by the CSD was carried out to ensure the quality of the goods vis-à-vis comparable products produced in India,” the CAG added.
The CSD sells goods at subsidised rates to soldiers and ex-servicemen. Its sales amounted to Rs 15,781 crore during 2015-16.
In its defence, the CSD said there was no ban on importing items from China. “Importing items by medium enterprises contributes to the economy, and provides employment to the Indian people,” it had replied last July.
However, the CAG was not convinced. Its report said there was nothing on record to show whether the needs and choices of consumers – or the popularity of the products themselves – were ascertained before the imported goods were introduced in the outlets. “The imported items were introduced without conducting market surveys and quality checks,” the report added.
As of March 2016, the number of consumer goods listed with the CSD stood at 5,548.
The CAG also raised questions about irregularities in liquor sales in 20 unit-run canteens. The report pegged the cost of “excess-drawn liquor” at Rs 5.14 crore, flagging concerns about illegal sales in the market.