Ignoring the directions of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Ministry of Defence has allotted Rs210 crore to Unit Run Canteens (URCs) of the Armed forces despite their non-submission of utilisation certificates for an amount totaling nearly ‘900 crore over the past nine years.
The dole of Rs210 crore is known as Quantitative Discount, which is the money transferred by the Government to the forces for the items sold through the URCs at discounted rates to the personnel.
The Army, Navy and Air Force have vehemently objected to the CAG audit of their canteen network across the country and have not yet provided the mandatory utilisation certificate for Rs884 crores — the money transferred by Defence Ministry as Quantitative Discount during the last nine years.
Approving the CAG’s findings and observations on the gross irregularities in the financial administration in the canteens — there are 4500 of them across the country — the PAC had directed the Defence Ministry to not to allot any amount till the utilisation certificate was provided.
According to General Financial Rules 2005, any disbursement of above Rs1 crore should be provided after receipt of utilisation certificate.
Despite the PAC direction in December 2011, Shankar Aggarwal, Additional Secretary in the Defence Ministry approved the allotment of Rs210 crore for the URCs as Quantitative Discount.
According to sources, the Ministry was forced to allot the fund under the pressure of the forces, which have yet to submit Action Taken Report to PAC.
For the past three years, the CAG and three Service chiefs have locked horns on auditing of the canteens. The auditors were barred from auditing the accounts of the 4,500 URCs and allowed to audit only Canteen Stores Department (CSD). The three forces contended that the administration of URC was a “privately held affair by each unit and nothing to do with public money”.
Referring to the huge funding provided by the Defence Ministry for Quantitative Discount, the CAG said that the operation of the URCs were indeed a Government affair.
Last year, PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi summoned the three Service chiefs and directed them to allow the CAG officials to audit the canteens. In the PAC meeting, the three forces said their canteens accounts were audited by private chartered accountants and there was no need for a separate CAG auditing. This was shot down by the Parliamentary Panel.
-via The Pioneer