The annual budget of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) for 2009-10, according to the report released recently, has gone through the roof, exceeding by a massive Rs 360.38 crore. What’s more, the reasons have nothing to do with customers who use its electricity or bus services.
The granted budget was Rs 736.84 crore while the total expenditure of the BEST was Rs 1097.22 crore, according to a report presented at the BEST committee meeting on Tuesday.
The BEST has ended up spending more on overall administrative charges, in the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) and dearness allowances to staff in the transport department, which had not been provisioned for. The BEST transport wing incurs losses of Rs 225 crore a year.
The only reason related to the bus service was additional expenditure of Rs 34.19 crore due to the hike in CNG rates. The amount budgeted for it was Rs 47.25 crore, but BEST ended up spending Rs 81.44 crore.
BEST general manager OP Gupta said, “It’s not that our expenses went out of hand. While presenting the budget, we use estimated figures and the fact that expenses are more than estimated is taken into consideration.” Committee member Sunil Ganacharya raised questions over the spending of Rs 58.85 crore more on the VRS than the granted amount of Rs 10.79 crore. “It was decided by the committee that employees taking VRS would be given the amount in three installments. But, they were given the money at once,” Ganacharya said.
In response, GM Gupta accepted that the VRS scheme had been stopped for a while due to some irregularities. “We haven’t stopped the scheme till we figure out irregularities,” Gupta said. The other major expense was the dearness allowance, which added Rs 50.49 crore to the expenses.