Sniffing a scam in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) while it was run by the CPM-led board, mayor Subrata Mukherjee has demanded a special audit of the CMC accounts for the period 1990-2000. He has also written a letter to municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya on this.
“The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been after us to submit an audited report of the CMC accounts, which we are unable to do since the relevant papers are missing,” said Mukherjee. “I think if the state government allows a special audit for the 1990-2000 period, during which around Rs 5,000 crore had been spent by the CPM-led civic board, a scam on the lines of the Alipore Treasury scandal can be unearthed,” he added.
The ADB, in a recent ultimatum to municipal commissioner Debasis Som, threatened to suspend loan proposals if the civic body failed to submit audited accounts from 1993 to 2002 to the bank by June 30.
Mayor Mukherjee told minister Bhattacharya that there were differences in the treasurer’s cashbook and the computerised printout, besides several bank accounts that have not been reconciled or confirmed.
“I could have got the accounts of the ’90s prepared and audited by this time, if the former CPM-led board had left behind the relevant papers of transactions (bills, vouchers, etc) in the office. But nothing can be located,” said Mukherjee in his letter.
Minister Bhattacharya offered no sympathy, saying the CMC would have to submit the report to the bank on time. He, however, said there should be no problem in preparing the accounts from 1996, since they are computerised.
The ADB loan dialogue started in 1998. After a feasibility study, a loan of Rs 1,245 crore for an environment improvement project was finalised and sanctioned in December last year.
The thrust areas of the proposed environment projects include north Calcutta, from Sinthee to Cossipore, the Topsia-Tiljala-Kasba belt on the eastern fringe and Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur in the south.
Mukherjee handed over a copy of the letter, sent to the CMC by ADB director Louis de Jonghe, in which he reminded municipal commissioner Som about the three related clauses in the agreement, which are to be fulfilled before disbursement of the loan. The clauses are:
n Schedule VI (paras 19 & 20) demands the CMC ensure that external auditors, acceptable to the bank, shall have audited the accounts from 1993-94 to 2000-2001 by June 30, 2002. This has not been complied with.
n Schedule V (para 9) does not allow the bank to approve of any proposal for awarding a contract to detailed design and construction supervision consultants, unless the state and the CMC have established a computerised project accounting system, supported by adequate PMU staff.
“Due to non-compliance of this covenant, we are constrained not to reimburse any payments made by the CMC to its design and supervision consultants,” the schedule adds.
n Schedule IV (para 12) lays down that the bank shall not approve of any proposal for awarding civic contracts unless the CMC completes the audit of all accounts by external auditors acceptable to the bank.