Debt played down by Rs 2 lakh cr: CAG : The Tribune India

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Debt played down by Rs 2 lakh cr: CAG

CAG points out large number of footnotes inserted in all 16 statements of the Centre’s financial accounts for 2021-22

Debt played down by Rs 2 lakh cr: CAG


Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, September 18

A CAG report has frowned at the Centre’s practice of disclosing the actual situation through footnotes that resulted in the main part of the Union Budget showing external debt of Rs 4.39 lakh crore at the “historical rate of exchange” whereas at current exchange rate, shown in small print as a footnote, the actual debt was Rs 6.58 lakh crore.

Cites Footnotes to flag facts

  • CAG points out large number of footnotes inserted in all 16 statements of the Centre’s financial accounts for 2021-22
  • Footnotes put the actual external debt at Rs 6.58 lakh crore instead of Rs 4.39 lakh crore, as indicated in the Union Budget

“It was observed that the latter was Rs 2.18 lakh crore higher than what was shown at the historical rate. This disclosure of the value of external debt only through a footnote affected the transparency of the accounts,” noted the CAG’s financial audit of the Central Government for the 2021-22 fiscal. It also pointed out that the calculation of external debt at the “historical rate of exchange’’ was a violation of the FRBM Act, 2003, which specifies the valuation of external debt at current exchange rates.

Similarly, the difference of the Centre’s account with the RBI’s closing cash balance was also shown in a footnote. This footnote gave a break-up of the difference between civil ministries, non-civil ministries, UTs and broad reasons for the differences. “Disclosure through the footnote was inadequate as the difference was shown on a net basis and thus, did not capture its totality in terms of separate credits and debits that made up the difference,” the CAG noted.

The CAG also pointed out that a large number of footnotes were inserted in all 16 statements of the Union Government’s financial accounts for 2021-22 for disclosing additional information. These footnotes, though relating to significant transactions, lacked clarity and in some cases were being repeated year after year without a resolution, it said.

In their response, the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) stated that the footnotes were inserted to qualify transactions during the year or the balances appearing in the Union Government’s financial accounts (UGFA). In some cases, the footnotes were also inserted to provide additional information to the stakeholders, which was not part of the format of the UGFA.

Its defence was that the footnotes were inserted below the pages where these transactions were reported to aid readability. “However, the feasibility of inserting ‘Notes to Accounts’ is being examined,” conceded the CGA.

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