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Auditors pick holes in Cuncolim municipality’s state of affairs

NT NETWORK

Margao

Auditors have found various faults in the functioning of the Cuncolim municipality, including excess expenditure at its solid waste management facility, underutilisation of funds, non-assessment of house tax among others.

The Indian Audit and Accounts Department in its audit report of the municipality for the period of 2017-18 to 2018-19 stated that the municipality incurred a loss through “the licence fee to the tune of Rs 1,98,210.”

The auditors have found fault in the system of accounting, and stated that the municipality did not adopt the “accrual-based system of preparing balance sheet” and that the reported net surplus of income over expenditure fell by 42 per cent from Rs 2.12 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 1.23 crore during 2018-19.

“The surplus was primarily on account of retention of government grants received towards development works without corresponding spending,” mentions the audit report.

“Municipal revenue from taxes and fees by way of house tax, construction licence fee, rent, market occupancy, trade tax and signboard tax during 2018-19 was Rs 1.21 crore, a decrease of 55 per cent for 2017-18 when the municipal revenue was Rs 2.66 crore.”

On the other hand, it pointed that a major portion of receipts in the form of government assistance toward salaries and allowances to employees and development works constituted 44 per cent of total receipts in 2017-18 to 43 per cent in 2018-19.

“This indicated that the municipality was largely dependent on government transfers and assignments for its sustenance. This underscored the need for shoring up municipal revenue by undertaking periodic revision of taxes and fees, implementing the resolved taxes/ fees/ rentals and collecting the arrears,” stated the report.

“The municipality had resolved to levy and collect a flat rate of tax of Rs 5 per square metre for residential houses of Mangalore tile roofing, Rs 8 per square metre for residential houses with RCC frame and Rs 30 per square meter for commercial properties situated within its jurisdiction,” mentioned the report, adding it was not in accordance with departmental instructions and was lower than the notified PWD rates. A total amount of Rs 32, 38,569 revenue had been forgone due to this.

The report also noted that there was a failure to utilise basic grant and performance grants of the 14th Finance Commission aimed at providing basic services. Though the municipality had received Rs 55.95 crore basic grant under 14th Finance Commission during the period from 08.08.2016 to 19.06.2019, it had utilised only Rs 0.83 crore during 2016-18. Thereafter, the funds were not utilised.

Discrepancies in maintenance of cash book, delay in progress of work, avoidable loss of rent of Rs 91,020 on account of vacant shop, lack of internal control in cattle pound, non-submission of detailed bills issued in February 2016, unfruitful expenditure to the tune of Rs 4.47 lakh towards payment of financial advisor, non-settlement of illegal constructions etc were also reported in the report.

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