Fiscal indiscipline will cost the universities dear now. Faced with mounting arrears of universities and frequent court cases, the Human Resource Development Department has now decided to get the budgets of all the universities scrutinised by a team of auditors from the office of the Accountant General (AG).
The auditors will visit all the universities one by one and do sample checking of the arrears calculated by the universities. The HRD had directed all the universities to make detailed budget estimates, including arrears, for 2007-08 and get it approved by the finance committee, syndicate and senate before submitting the hard and soft copies.
The HRD had also submitted a time-frame for various stages of budget preparation, starting at the college and department level. It had sought an undertaking from the person answerable for the budget. However, none of the universities could comply with it.
Sources said that the move was aimed at tightening the noose around varsities and making them fully accountable for every penny. "The state universities have landed themselves in financial mess due to their own follies, as they have given a complete go-by to the statutory provisions despite government’s clear instructions that action would be taken against the person concerned under section 35 (3) of the Universities Acts in case of wrong information," they added.
HRD Commissioner-cum-Secretary Dr MM Jha said that all the universities had been asked to prepare actual budget on the basis of sanctioned strength of employees. "They claim arrears arbitrarily. Above all, there is no accountability. There has to be a system in place to decide the quantum of arrears under various heads," he added.
Jha said that the auditors would verify the calculation of arrears and suggest measures for proper estimation. "The government wants to clear the arrears of the universities, but it must have proper records before it," he said, adding the move was a sequel to government’s resolve to bring about discipline in universities’ fiscal management.
"The government has told the universities time and again to frame a policy for claiming arrears. The problems stem from ambiguity in actual strength, which differs from the sanctioned strength. That will also help in proper disbursement of the allocated grants," he added.
The sources said that Magadh University had earlier sent details of arrears but following detection of discrepancies it was returned. In view of the growing number of court cases, most of which pertain to retirement benefits and arrear payment, the Patna High Court had also issued directive for clearing all arrears.