Shadow council for Margao demands audit in the financial irregularities at Margao municipality

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Margao: Shadow Council for Margao filed a representation before Ms. Anitha Balakrishna, the Principal Accountant General(CAG, Goa), demanding for a detailed Audit into the various financial irregularities at the Margao Municipal Council.

SCM in its representation pointed out that even after exposing the wrongdoings, with evidence, it was amusing to see that there is hardly any scrutiny over the scams so as to pull up those responsible. “We often hear of Audit’s happening, but we hardly know whether these scams, at the cost of the public exchequer, have ever caught the attention of the Auditors”, Mr. Coutinho stated.

Upon knowing about the CAG Audit at the MMC, SCM submitted a list of 9 issues, calling upon the CAG for the need of a serious review.

It was pointed out that an agency was appointed for door to door waste collection, by neither following Codal formalities, nor was an Agreement or MOU executed between the Council and the Agency. However, over 10 lakhs of payments were made to the agency EVERY MONTH in the absence of any MOU or Agreement/Contract. Instead of initiating the process of inviting tenders, illegal and haphazard extensions were given, SCM alleged.

Private agency’s were introduced primarily for segregated waste collection, however what eventually reached the Sonsodo dumpyard was mixed waste, which could not be treated, and went for further Remediation, involving additional financial burden to the tune of several crores of rupees. TILL DATE NOT A SINGLE KILOGRAM OF COMPOST HAS BEEN DERIVED FROM THE SO CALLED SEGREGATED WET WASTE COLLECTED.

It may also be pointed that recyclables collected, generate ZERO revenue for the Council, as the agency’s pay their workers half of the amount paid by the Council; and their workers are given the freedom to sell the recyclables and earn additional income.

SCM also stated that 3 BS4 Engine trucks were purchased, without following Codal formalities. “Margao Municipal Council has lost 37 lakhs in this shoddy purchase, knowing well that these BS4 engine trucks would face a ban by the Supreme court”, Mr. Savio Coutinho charged.

In respect to the purchase of Two rickshaws tagged as “Bio-Rickshaws”, SCM revealed that a post dated cheque was collected from the service provider, as guarantee. This cheque got dishonoured and till date no action is taken for the recovery of the loss of over 8 lakhs, SCM stated..

The CAG was also called upon to check upon the asset’s of the Council, as no periodic Inventory is ever conducted by the Council. It’s was stated that after a great deal of hardships, which included a years struggle before the State Information Commission, SCM got information under RTI, that the Council is in possession of 208 mobile hand sets. However the inspection of these 208 handset’s was denied. It was requested that the CAG check upon this, and verify the existence of at least the 208 mobile phone sets. Resale of which could surely fetch revenue for the Council, SCM stated.

SCM further stated that JCB had been hired by the Council for over a year without following Codal formalities. Extension’s after extension’s were granted taking undue advantage of a high court matter. Bills were paid on the basis of manipulated timing’s, which manipulation may be difficult to prove. However if the quantum of handled waste is considered, one is set to wonder whether it was a toy JCB working, or an actual one.

SCM also revealed that, while the rate agreed includes Diesel costs, the Council showed undue generosity of providing diesel to the Contractor.

As a matter of formality, a rigged/compromised quotation system has been adopted a couple of months ago. How can a work involving payments of over 35 lakhs(1 year) be executed by inviting quotations, questions SCM.

Sopo collection Contractor’s over the past several years have defaulted in payment of dues to the Council. The Bank Guarantees given to the Council by many of the contractors were not encashed after default of payments. Collectively, over 50 lakhs of rupees is still outstanding and receivable from such Contractor’s, as halfhearted efforts are made towards recovery of these dues, the representation stated.

The government has time and again issued circulars and directions to the Council, calling for the assessment of illegal and unassesed premises for tax and sanitation fees. However the Council is very conveniently ignoring these directions.

In a way, it would not be wrong to charge that the Council itself is promoting illegal construction, depriving the Council of it’s revenue. This stands affirmed with the fact that the Council is going out of its way in issuing NOC’S for Power and water connections to illegal and unassesed premises without assessing these premises for tax, when the same is easily possible.

SCM stated that It is most disheartening to observe how the Council finds ways and means to exhaust precious resources from the Finance Commission Grant’s, instead of using the same for revenue generating, infrastructure projects, so much in need for the city. We request for clarity on the type of expenditures that can be made through the Finance Commission Grants, SCM states.

Shadow Council also pointed out that Advertisement fees payable by councillors and political leaders was pending for recovery.

SCM hopes that the team deputed to the Margao Municipal Council undertakes a fair exercise through a thorough Audit in the interest of the public exchequer. Fixing responsibility through the Audit should be the final goal, without which the Audit may also end up into being a farce, like before, SCM concluded.

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