Govt to probe Rs 2004 cr financial mismanagement7 March 2010
The Daily Excelsior
By Sanjeev Pargal JAMMU: The Government has asked senior officers of Finance and Planning Departments to probe ‘financial mismanagement’ during previous coalition Government which has created a liability of Rs 2004 crore. Official sources told the Excelsior that the Government has asked senior officers of the Finance and Planning Departments to hold a threadbare probe into the liability created by the previous Government after they are free from presentation of the budget scheduled for March 12. 'An inquiry is a must to ascertain that for which purpose the funds worth Rs 2004 crore were diverted by Finance and Planning Ministry held by the PDP during previous coalition Government', sources said. The inquiry will, however, start only after the Finance and Planning Department officers, presently busy with budget preparations, get free after March 12. Sources said the Government was surprised by a silence maintained by the PDP, which held Finance and Planning portfolio during entire five and a half year period of PDP-Congress coalition, over 'serious nature of charges' on Rs 2004 crore liability created by their Ministry. The Government is anticipating a PDP answer to the charges during discussion on the budget in the Legislative Assembly, which will start the very next day of presentation of budget by Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather on March 12. Finance Minister in PDP regime for more than three years, Muzaffar Hussain Baig is a member of the present Assembly but he has turned up in the House only once during obituary reference on first day of the session. Tariq Hamid Qarra, who had succeeded Mr Baig as Finance and Planning Minister, had lost the last Assembly election. Citing some instances, Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said the Central Government had provided Rs 300 crore to the State under ‘Natural Calamity Fund’ during the previous regime. Now when the State Government wanted Rs 70 crore to provide three months free ration in drought hit areas, it found that no funds were available under the head and entire amount had been diverted for other resources. Surprisingly, Rs 600 crore under Prime Minister’s Re-construction Plan (PMRP) had also been diverted and it was not known for what purpose they had been spent. A handsome amount of loan sanctioned for Baglihar hydro-electric project was not spent for the purpose. 'The Government will inquire into circumstances as to why and how the funds were diverted. The projects or infrastructure on which the funds had been utilised are yet to be ascertained,' sources said. Mr Rather observed that it was a clear case of 'financial mismanagement' by the Finance and Planning Ministry of previous regime. 'We have restored financial discipline in our little over one year tenure of the Government. We have full record of each and every penny spent during our term. This, however, was not the case with previous Finance and Planning Ministry', he asserted. Mr Rather said the Principal Auditor General was on record having stated about improvement in financial management of the State at present. It may be mentioned here that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah while replying to debate on Governor’s Address in the Legislative Assembly on February 25 had charged previous Finance and Planning Ministry with creating Rs 2004 crore liability during their tenure. The PDP has not responded to the allegations so far.