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SEB trips on poor book-keeping

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  • Published 14.08.04

Calcutta, Aug. 14: Bad book-keeping has landed the Bengal electricity board in a soup.

According to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB) has failed to avail of the Rs 420.82-crore incentive under the Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP) because it could not produce proper accounts.

Under APDRP, funds are channelised into two components — (a) Investment by way of loans/grants for specific projects and (b) Incentive at 50 per cent of the reduction in gap between unit cost of supply and average revenue realised.

The incentive would be determined by the central government with the audited accounts of 2000-01 as the base year.

WBSEB had entered into a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Centre on July 27, 2002, under which an incentive would be provided to the board for actual cash loss reduction by way of matching grants.

Thus, to avail of this incentive for 2001-02 in the subsequent year, the board was required to prepare the accounts for 2000-01 and 2001-02 after considering only realisable income, all accrued revenue expenditure and known losses and liabilities. The board was asked to submit the audited accounts within March 31, 2003.

In July 2002, CAG pointed out that WBSEB had understated the loss of Rs 672.72 crore for 2000-01 by Rs 2182.07 crore.

Even after CAG highlighted this gross distortion, the board did not revise the accounts for 2000-01. It said that the accepted audit observations relating to a particular financial year were accounted for only in the subsequent financial year.

The MoA was effective from the date of signing it. The board submitted the audited accounts for 2000-01 and unaudited accounts for 2001-02 in February 2003. The accounts for 2001-02 showed a loss of Rs 1,472.73 crore.

Since WBSEB was under the impression that the loss for 2001-02 exceeded the loss for 2000-01, the chairman intimated the board on February 2003 that it could not avail of the incentive as the loss had mounted, the CAG report says.