The civic body appears to be lot more focused on loosening its purse strings than keeping an account of its spending.
Despite a 26% increase in its budget over last year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has again failed, for the fourth year in a row, to ensure a regular audit of its accounts and expenditure to check on financial irregularities in its transactions owing to a staff crunch.
The annual audit report of income and expenditure for the past financial year 2011-12, which is expected by November-December, is set to be indefinitely delayed. The report of the year 2007-08 was presented as late as in August this year.
Officials rue that the department has been working with only 45% of the scheduled staff, making it difficult to conduct audits of crores of rupees and furnish reports on time.
“Apart from routine work, there are a number of projects such as the Middle Vaitarna project, procedures and transactions of which that remain unaudited. The BMC is adding big projects to its budget but there is no attention being paid to scrutinising transactions,” said a senior official from the chief auditor’s department, requesting anonymity.
Officials attribute the staff crunch to a circular that was issued by additional municipal commissioner (projects) in January to stop fresh recruitments in the department and limit the scope of its work. The circular was a result of an amendment made by the state government to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, to accommodate a 14-member state-appointed local fund audit team to take over the auditing job from the civic chief auditor’s department.
“How can a state-appointed body independently carry out an audit of civic expenditure which is sanctioned by the municipal commissioner and additional municipal commissioners who are also appointed by the state government?” said another senior civic official.
The employees of the department also challenged the new process of appointing the chief auditor and a local fund audit team by the state government to take over the audit of civic accounts in February in the Bombay high court where the case is pending.
“The additional municipal commissioner has no authority to issue a circular to close down the chief auditor’s department as the department comes under the standing committee,” said Yashodhar Phanse, standing committee member and leader of the house in the BMC.
Additional municipal commissioner, Rajiv Jalota, who issued the circular, said: “The matter is sub-judice. The court will decide on it.”