The proponents of Swatch Bharat as an example of the government’s success should consider the fact that CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) has found that one-fourth of the collection of Swachh Bharat cess has stayed outside the dedicated fund.
Some of the other mismanagement of funds related to Swachh Bharat cess includes:
- An amount of over Rs 4,000 crore remained outside Rashtriya Swachhta Kosh, where 5% cess on all services was meant to be transferred to
- 75 percent of the total collections amounting to Rs. 12,400 could have been transferred
- There is a gap of a quarter of the amount used for the identified schemes in last couple of years
The auditor pointed out, “The rules stipulated that the resources of RSK were to be distributed in the ratio of 80:20 between Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). However, the ministry of drinking water and sanitation expended the entire amount on Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) without leaving any provision for Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).”
According to the national auditor:
- With other cesses, the experience has been similar
- In relation to six major cesses, nearly 45% of the funds collected, remained unutilised and were not transferred from the government’s Consolidated Fund of India to the dedicated funds or the intended schemes.
Generally dormant opposition has been vocal this time, demanding the explanation from the government as to why the cesses have been unutilized that burdens taxpayers with additional levies.
The CAG is of the opinion that collected amount is large and as the cess has been underutilized, this defeats the very purpose why they have been created.
CAG has tabled a report in Parliament last week where it has been critical of the collection of Rs. 83,497 crore towards the secondary and higher education cess during 2006-07 to 2016-17. The report said that nothing was “transferred to the earmarked fund as the schemes were identified on which the cess proceeds were not to be spent nor the designated fund was created to deposit the proceeds of the cess”.