Maharashtra CM cracks down on state's failure to account for funds

The state is yet to account for over Rs 71,000 crore that was sanctioned for development projects; CM has given officials until March to submit utilisation certificates for the funds

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis yesterday issued a stern warning to government officials who have failed to account for public works funds sanctioned by the previous regime.

The CM is believed to have told state officials they will be held responsible if they are unable to do so, as it will, in effect, hurt the state’s chances to recover funds from the Centre under the 13th Finance Commission.

As much as Rs 1,500 crore is yet to be released to the state by the Centre under the 13th Finance Commission. This amount will remain unrecovered until the Maharashtra government submits mandatory utilization certificates (UCs) for over Rs 71,000 crore of expenditure on development projects.

Much of this money was sponsored by the Centre for various welfare schemes under the 12th Finance Commission over the past five years. This paper has consistently reported that the state has neglected to submit UCs in the past (since FY 2004-2005), a practice cultivated by the previous Democratic Front regime.

Minister for finance and planning Sudhir Mungantiwar told mid-day that a warning was issued to department heads on Tuesday. “The CM has asked each and every department to submit, without any further delay, the utilization certificates for money they have used on developmental works, by March 2015.

Unless we do that, there is likely to be considerable delay in receiving further funds from Centre. As it is, the state stands at a crucial stage with the impending disbursement of relief funds for drought, etc,” he said. From the time the new state government was sworn in, it has managed to trace a fraction of the funds Rs 6,110 crore.

The amount had been distributed to various departments to complete 17,005 public works and projects, but has been lying unused. In fact, this amount is part of the total of Rs 71,563 crore, for which no UCs have been submitted since 2004-05. At a time when the state is already reeling under a paucity of funds, Mungantiwar said, “It is vital we now procure all these UCs urgently.”

CAG report
Earlier this year, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had pointed out the Cong-NCP government’s omission in accounting for the R71,563 crore, which was distributed to various departments for completing 1,14,753 development projects and tender works. According to the CAG, non-submission of UCs meant that all that money was lying unused, vulnerable to misuse and illegal diversion by miscreants.

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