River Navigation Dept under scrutiny for misuse of funds

Panjim: Nearly two months after the central audit team exposed a shortfall of Rs 36.63 lakh towards the ferry toll fee in the River Navigation Department, a further inquiry has revealed that the alleged misappropriation of funds could be Rs 1.25 crore from 2015 to 2018.

The audit finding, copy of which, is in possession of Herald, mentions the leakage of timely revenue to the government due to misappropriation of cash. Ferry-wise tickets for the year 2014-15 are not traceable in the office indicating absence of proper internal control. For this year, tickets amounting to Rs 88.22 lakh were issued to the ferry routes by the cashier.

“The absence of close monitoring and tight internal control to safeguard the collection of revenue/government revenue, by not enforcing the compulsory submission of ‘Statement of Tickets on Hand’ has resulted in leakage of timely revenue due to misappropriation of cash,” reads an extract of the report.

The auditors elaborated that absence of reconciliation of tickets, non-furnishing of ticket money as well as details of ferry-wise ticket issue besides amount received from various ferry routes has resulted in the loss. RND, on the other hand has denied misappropriation of the huge amount stating the loss is below Rs 2 lakh. Secretary P S Reddy, who has been seeking clarifications from the officers concerned on the issues plaguing the dept, has directed the parent department – Ports Administration to submit its reply to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) ‘for consideration.’

The audit further stated that a test check of the records comprising of maps, receipts, and challans showing remittance to treasury revealed a major deficiency that money received from the sale of tickets was not backed up by proper evidence. “The trail of unsold tickets could not be vouched for or tracked against subsequent receipt. In short, there was no mechanism for ensuring that entre money from the sale of tickets, which are issued over the cashiers’ counter to the flotilla staff on various ferry routes was remitted into account as reconciliation of tickets issued and receipts from issue of tickets were not carried out by the department,” it said.

To another issue of overpayment to the staff, the Ports officials conceded that some staff was illegally paid and the recovery is being made from this month’s salary. They have however stated that not 176 but 46 were paid salaries during absence from work, which were not sanctioned. The Secretary has asked that these details be submitted to the CAG as well. [H]