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Large variance in proposed and actual budgets of Bangalore’s civic authorities

Image Source: bangkokpost.com

Ishita Dave

Bangalore, 29 Sept: Over the last five years, there has been a difference of at least 100 crores between the actual and proposed budgets of Bangalore’s civic authorities.

According to a study conducted by Janaagraha, a local NGO, unrealistic budgets were proposed by Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).There is a variance of hundreds of crores in the actual spending when compared to the estimated budget.

During 2012-2016, BWSSB’s budgets have recorded variances of 36%-51% and BDA’s budgets a whopping 49%-87%.BMTC is the only body that seems to be managing to stay afloat with a variance of 12%-9% through the years.

Anil Nair, a Senior Manager in the Advocacy team at Janaagraha said, “As the reports suggest, we don’t really know where the money of these agencies go. We also found that there is no transparency when it comes to audited annual accounts and capital expenditure.”He added that such irregularities could be seen because there was no cost of non-compliance for them. There is no mechanism in place that penalizes them for not staying accountable.He believed that more transparency can only be brought by making citizens more aware of these discrepancies.

According to a report by Deccan Herald in July 2016, a press release by BDA explained this year’s gap in budget citing problems related to execution of projects.

“While NKG Layout did not accelerate as planned due to problems and litigation related to land acquisition, the development of Dr Shivarama Karanth Layout was shelved because of a court verdict. The PRR did not take off as planned in view of the difficulty to find a lending agency, internal and external, to finance the huge cost of land acquisition,” the BDA said.

The Right to Information Act requires all public authorities to publish details of the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made.

The BDA had also promised to start online payment of bills as a part of expanding their e-governance and increasing transparency by July. However the facility is still not available.

The study regarded online availability of annual budgets,annual audited accounts, internal audit reports, capital expenditure and a few other indicators to measure transparency. Of five points allotted for transparency, BMTC scored one while BWSSB and BDA scored zero.

BMTC’s Deputy Chief Accounts Officer, Mrs. Manjushree refused to comment on the issue saying that it was an internal matter and that the officials were not allowed to comment on it.

Namma Bengaluru Foundation, an NGO that works to resolve civic issues stated that despite repeated pleas to the civic authorities to make content available online, no step had been taken.

Sridhar Pabbishetty, CEO of Namma Bengaluru Foundation said, “It is unfortunate that we call ourselves the tech hub of the country when e-governance is clearly lacking. Citizens don’t know if auditory processes of our civic authorities are fair and thorough, if it’s not available online. Citizens are willing to engage but the government needs to be more open and transparent and be answerable about the money spent.”

 

Source: Janaagraha Report

 

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