The last thing a state straddling the highest debt in the country, estimated at Rs 2.10 lakh crore by the end of this financial year, can afford is losses worth thousands of crores for reasons ranging from non-recovery of taxes to undue benefits to private companies.
But, that is exactly what Maharashtra’s annual report card from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India says. The 2009 CAG report, tabled in the Legislature on Friday, revealed a loss of around Rs 4,000 crore to the state exchequer.
This loss of revenue, attributed to non-levy of taxes, poor recovery of taxes, wrong decisions, largesse to private contractors, has been revealed through selective audits of the state government’s commercial enterprises, its taxation and performance audits of its companies.
The CAG tabled five reports in the Legislature.
“It is true that actions on our recommendations have not been taken. However, our job is to compile information and present it. It is the Public Accounts Committee [of the Legislature] that needs to examine the reports and take further action,” Principal Accountant General of Maharashtra, Rajib Sharma.
The state has lost Rs 1,527 crore because of non-recovery of water bills, guarantee fees granted to public sector undertakings, and interests due from these companies. The state’s commercial enterprises have lost Rs 327 crore because of reasons like non-recovery of arrears from consumers.
Accountant General, Sayantani Jafa, in the commercial report has recommended that the government take action against officials, who fail to send replies to inspection reports and act to recover outstanding dues in a time-bound manner.
According to the report, the state has lost revenue also because it did not apply its mind to business plans.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, for instance, spent Rs 5.80 crores on building a food mall along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, but the mall has no direct access from the road. It has, thus, had no visitors for three years.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation lost Rs 22.14 lakh for constructing part of its tent resort at Vengurla without ascertaining the title of the land.
“If the legislature committees are vigilant then they can put pressure on the government to act as per CAG recommendations,” said V.Ranganathan, former bureaucrat.