Andhra Pradesh

We have all details for Rs 41K cr: Finance Minister

VIJAYAWADA: Refuting the allegation of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Payyavula Keshav that the Finance Department spent Rs 41,000 crore in gross violation of procedures, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy has said the State government will furnish all the details to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which sought clarification on bills for the amount.

Referring to the Opposition criticism over the CAG’s letters, the Finance Minister on Tuesday, said the previous TDP government had introduced the Comprehensive Financial Management System (CFMS) in 2018 and since then all the payments are being made through the CFMS instead of treasury.

In 2020-21, Rs 10,895 crore was reverted from PD accounts due to some programming errors in the CFMS and there is a need to resolve them. Payyavula should have some common sense while making such allegation that Rs 41,000 crore was spent in gross violation of procedures, Buggana said.

Maintaining that the State government has complete details pertaining to the amount spent, the Finance Minister said, “Is there no system in India to keep a tab if Rs 41,000 crore irregularities take place? Leave alone Rs 41,000 crore, even if one complains about missing of Rs 410 from his account, the bank manager will rectify it the next day.

How can the PAC Chairman speak innocently on such an issue? Instead of writing to the Governor and Centre and addressing press conferences, Payyavula in his capacity as the PAC Chairman, can call for a meeting and take information to clear his doubts.”

Buggana said the government is bound to give reply as the PAC is representative of the Legislature and a check on the government and the executive. He felt that Payyavula’s baseless allegation was aimed at creating some misunderstanding among people on the State finances.

“The Opposition has resorted to doing unnecessary politics based on the CAG letters. The CAG has sought clarification on the payment of Rs 41,000 crore bills and all the details will be sent to its office,’’ he asserted.

Buggana said it is quite common for the auditing agency to raise questions. “It is a question of clarification and reconciliation. It is unfair on the part of the Opposition to level baseless allegation against the government without verifying facts,’’ he remarked.

Stating that the Rs 41,000 crore was spent for clearing as many as 10,061 bills, he disclosed that Rs 10,895 crore was paid to PD accounts for the Centrally sponsored schemes in 2020-21. Similarly, Rs 20,899 crore was paid to different corporations in 2019-20 and Rs 8,869 crore in 2020-21, the minister said.

Maintaining that it was not true that the money was paid without bills, Buggana said the confusion was due to the CFMS programming errors. The government is planning to come up with a parallel system to avoid the errors.

The payment system is backbone of the government. But the previous TDP regime kept it in the control of private individuals by introducing the CFMS without proper supervision. “Our government has been monitoring the system and rectifying the errors for the past two years,’’ he said.

Reacting to the allegation that Andhra Pradesh was making debts in the name of Telangana, he clarified that the two States have been repaying the debt taken by the erstwhile combined AP and there is no such provision of getting loan in the name of another State.

Making it clear that the State is taking loans within the borrowing limit set by the Centre, he said due to the slowdown of economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was forced to borrow to extend all possible aid to the poor and downtrodden in the difficult times.

“In fact, the debts of our government are visible in the form of various welfare schemes,’’ he affirmed. The Finance Minister asserted that there was no problem in paying salaries to employees and attributed the delay in some cases to technical issues.