Your local corporator probably has no clue how much money was allotted to improve water supply to your locality or if the contractor who charged a bomb to repair the potholed road really spent all the dough. The reason? Believe it or not, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not done an internal audit in many of its departments for the past four years! In 2009, the BMC moved from manual audit to an automated system by bringing in SAP ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions to streamline auditing. But far from making things faster, audit work has hardly moved since the 2009-10 financial year.
Worse, even when audit reports are filed, they do not even reach the elected representatives. It is mandatory for each internal audit report done by the Municipal Chief Auditor, to be submitted to standing committee members of each department within a month’s time. But rules at BMC are meant to be broken.
For instance, the internal audit of the Water Supply and Sewerage Department (WSSD) has not been circulated to any standing committee member, since 2003-04. And the department has not conducted a single internal audit since 2007. The SAP model was started from the year 2009-2010 following which many other departments also missed their internal audit deadlines.
The Standing Committee recently received the 2003-04 internal audit report of the WSSD after many corporators complained that they were kept in the dark about expenditure figures and whether money allotted for a particular work was being well spent.
Speaking to SMD, Dnyanraj Nikam, leader of the Opposition in the BMC, said, “There is a need to iron out these teething problems to make the system more transparent. Internal audit is a must and it is imperative that we are given yearly data on each department’s expenditures. This huge backlog needs to be cleared soon.” A senior municipal officer on condition of anonymity, said, “We will be clearing the backlog in a few months. We hope the standing committee too approves these reports quickly so that the reports reach all elected representatives.”
Whether the BMC will be able to complete an internal audit backlog of four years in a few months of course is anybody’s guess.
Dilip Patel, BJP group leader and a Standing Committee member, added, “We have raised concerns over non-transparency in various departments. In spite of being elected members we are not given copies of audit reports. The SAP model first delayed the property tax issue and now it has affected the internal audit system.”