CAG reports unveil misuse of public funds, calling for enhanced accountability and oversight

Financial discrepancies in key projects and welfare schemes spark discussions on transparent governance and proper allocation of resources.

Published : Aug 17, 2023 20:37 IST - 2 MINS READ

The 2023 CAG report ignited calls for greater financial prudence and governmental transparency.  

The 2023 CAG report ignited calls for greater financial prudence and governmental transparency.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has recently brought to light instances of misallocation and misuse of public funds in three significant projects. These audits shed light on financial discrepancies and call for increased transparency and accountability in public governance.

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In the first instance, the CAG highlighted concerns surrounding the Dwarka Expressway project’s construction cost. Originally approved at Rs 18.20 crore per kilometre, the project’s cost skyrocketed to an astonishing Rs 250.77 crore per kilometre. The absence of a detailed project report and questionable decisions, such as constructing an eight-lane elevated main carriageway and a six-lane at-grade road, raised alarms about financial prudence. Toll rates, tolling mechanisms, and competing infrastructure projects, such as the Rapid Rail Transit System Shahjahanpur-Neemrana-Behror (RRTS SNB) were also flagged as concerns. The CAG report has ignited discussions about the necessity for transparent governance in large-scale infrastructure initiatives. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) is yet to provide a comprehensive response to the report’s findings.

In the second instance, the CAG report delved into the diversion of funds from the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD). Over the period of 2017-2021, approximately Rs 2.83 crore meant for NSAP activities, including old age pension schemes, were redirected to promote other government schemes.

Further financial misallocations in six States amounting to Rs 57.45 crore were also revealed. These diversions hindered awareness-raising activities, impacting the benefits for beneficiaries. The CAG’s report underscores the necessity of adhering to intended fund allocation and prioritising the goals of welfare schemes.

In the third scenario, the CAG uncovered irregularities in the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat—Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) health insurance scheme. A total of Rs 6.97 crore was disbursed for the treatment of 3,446 patients who were recorded as deceased in the scheme’s database. The audit exposed weaknesses in the system’s application and control measures, despite claims of checks being in place. The report emphasises the urgency of enhancing oversight to prevent financial irregularities and ensure the scheme’s effectiveness in providing healthcare coverage to India’s vulnerable populations.

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These reports collectively highlight the critical need for accountable governance, adherence to financial guidelines, and the implementation of robust oversight mechanisms to safeguard public funds and ensure the effective execution of various government initiatives.

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