Central auditor pulls up Kejriwal govt over ad expenditure in 2015
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has pulled up the Arvind Kejriwal government for spending R 29 crore in advertisements outside Delhi, which it said was “beyond its responsibility”.
The government also received flak for issuing advertisements worth Rs 24 crore that were in violation of “financial propriety and Supreme Court regulations”.
The central auditor’s report on social sector for the financial year 2015-16 was tabled in the Delhi assembly on Friday.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came back to power in Delhi in February 2015. It presented its first full-fledged budget for the financial year 2015-16, allocating R 522 crore to the department of publicity and information.
Though the ad budget was brought down to R100 crore in the revised estimates, the actual cost of advertisements released during 2015-16 may go beyond R 114.21 crore.
Supreme Court guidelines violated
In the report, the CAG pulled up the Kejriwal government for using the name and symbol of the AAP in official advertisements and referring to the government as ‘Kejriwal sarkar’ and “Aam Aadmi Party Sarkar”.
This, the CAG said, was against Supreme Court guidelines that say there should be “political neutrality” in government advertisements and they should not glorify politicians.
The CAG also said the advertisements on women’s safety attempted to project the central government and the Delhi Police in a negative light, again violating the Supreme Court’s guidelines.
“On test check of records, audit observed that expenditure of R 24.29 crore was incurred on advertisements and publicity campaigns that were not in conformity with the generally accepted principles of financial propriety or the guidelines on content regulation approved by the Supreme Court,” the report said.
“Over 85 per cent of expenditure of R 33.40 crore incurred in one specific publicity campaign pertained to advertisements released outside Delhi,which was beyond the responsibility of the Delhi government,” it added.
Non-verified content in advertisements
In its report, the auditor highlighted instances of “non-verifiable content in advertisements”. One of them is related to claims of saving R 347 crore in construction of three bridges and the second on construction of dispensary at R 20 lakh as compared to R 5 crore by the previous governments.
“Audit requested the public works department for details of the project and expenditures incurred. However, no details were provided…the total expenditure projected was only an “assessment” and was not the actual expenditure incurred. Audit observed that two of the three bridges were yet to be fully completed though they had been open to traffic and the projected savings was admittedly based on assessment and not on actual expenditure,” the report said, adding that the cost of balance work was not informed to the audit.
Shabdarth did not achieve objectives
The auditor observed anomalies in the establishment of Shabdarth, a registered society established under the department of information and publicity. The auditor said that the objective with which the organization was set up, to rationalise expenditure on advertisements, was not achieved.