New Delhi: The country`s top auditor CAG has pulled up the cultural organisation under the Ministry of External Affairs for incurring an irregular expenditure in publication of its journal `Africa Quarterly`.
"Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) obtained approval of competent authority by including misleading information in the proposal for work of publication of its journal `Africa Quarterly` to a private firm resulting in irregular expenditure of Rs 37 lakh during the period from February 2006 to December 2009," the CAG report said.
The ICCR had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a private firm in September 2005 for generation of content, design and publication of `Africa Quarterly` at a cost of Rs 10 lakh per annum, it said.
As per the proposal, the publisher was to generate revenue through mobilisation of advertisements for the journal and its sale, said the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General submitted in Parliament on Friday.
"Audit scrutiny revealed that the terms and conditions relating to mobilisation of revenue through advertisements and sale of journal were not included in the MoU signed with the firm," it said.
The CAG observed that non-inclusion of such terms and conditions resulted in not only financial loss to the Council but also undue benefit to the firm.
The CAG said the Council signed the MoU with the firm for a period of three years as against the decision taken by the foreign secretary to engage it for a trial period of one year.
"However, the Council continued the MoU with the firm and a payment of Rs 37 lakh had been made during the period from February 2006 to December 2009 on this account," the report said.
The Council admitted the discrepancy and said the initial proposal for sharing the revenue and marketing the publication was never implemented since no formal proposal was made by the firm, it said.
"The proposal to include advertisement as well as to market the journal on a commercial basis and to share revenue was discussed verbally by the firm with the Council," the CAG said.
It said the reply of the Council was not acceptable as including the terms and conditions regarding mobilising advertisement, sale of journal and sharing the revenue in the proposal for approval without formal proposal from the firm misled the competent authority.
"Obtaining the approval of competent authority on misleading information and non-implementation of approved proposal in toto has rendered the approval as void. Thus, incurring expenditure of Rs 37 lakh by the Council against such approval resulted in irregular expenditure," it said.
The CAG also pulled up the ICCR for extending undue favour to a contractor by awarding the work of the inaugural ceremony of `Festival of Russia in India` to a contractor at a cost of Rs 55.05 lakh without following the tendering process.