The Telegraph
Thursday , July 3 , 2014
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AG seeks info on sick govt undertakings

Bhubaneswar, July 2: The principal accountant-general (AG) has sought detailed information about 76 of the 140 state government-owned undertakings that have fallen sick over the years.

“Financial accounts of the government reflect investment accounts in respect of 140 entities, of which 76 companies/corporations have become defunct and the investment figures of these companies have been rolling on,” said AG’s missive to additional chief secretary and finance secretary U.N. Behera.

The total investment of the defunct companies works out to around Rs 60 crore. “As the defunct companies and corporations are not liquidated, the true and correct position of the investment made by the government in these companies could not be determined,” the AG said.

The AG has advised Behera to liquidate the non-functioning companies so that the correct position of government investments could be known.

Following the AG’s rap, special secretary, finance, A.K. Mishra, yesterday wrote to the departments under which the corporations operated to intimate the financial position of these undertakings to the government as well as the AG.

Commenting on the issue, a senior state government official cited the examples of two of the most talked about defunct corporations — the Konark Television Limited and Odisha Textile Mill — to illustrate the financial mess most of these undertakings have landed in.

The financial statement of the government reveals Rs 6.56 crore was invested in the Konark Television Limited that began operations in September 1973 as a unit of the Odisha Small Industries Corporation. Though it started producing a modest 75 units per annum, its annual capacity grew to 80,000 black and white and 40,000 colour television sets by the 1987-88.

However, due to mismanagement, the company began incurring losses after 1990 and the slide continued. The final nail in the company’s coffin was the 1999 super cyclone following which production and sales came to a halt and salaries of the employees were stopped.

The company’s accumulated losses reached Rs 24.43 crore eroding its capital base. With the company falling on bad days, goons set on fire its office on February 22, 2004, destroying machinery. Land belonging to the company has also been sold out to private entrepreneurs by the state government.

The case of Odisha Textile Mills Limited is similar. There was a time when nearly 5,000 people used to work at the factory, which was closed down in 2005 and its machinery stolen. But the state government’s financial report says that more than Rs 4 crore has been invested in the mill.

Statistics provided by the Economic Survey 2013-14 reveal that at the end of 2012-13, there were 64 public sector companies in the state, but of these, only 32 were operational. The total investment of the government in these 32 PSUs was Rs 8,348.87 crore.