New Delhi(PTI): It seems the ministry of external affairs has little clue about its unutilised properties abroad even when it has been found guilty of spending a huge amount of tax payer's money – nearly Rs.280 crore annually – on rentals.
Avenue du Lowendal, the street that houses Indian Cultural Centre in Paris. Though MEA spent crores to acquire the building it could not be put to use as the structure does not conform to French safety regulations
Dissatisfied with former foreign secretary Sujata Singh's explanation on inefficient management pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report last year and also the failure to provide the database of MEA's global estates that it has bought over the years, the Public Accounts Committee would be summoning current foreign secretary S Jaishankar to explain the irregularities.
"She had no proof to substantiate the claims of the ministry. So we have decided to call the new foreign secretary soon to explain the violations found by CAG. There is so much violation in the maintenance of Government of India's assets across the globe," said PAC chairman, K V Thomas.
Criticising the Global Estate Management by the MEA, the CAG had said, "Properties were purchased or developed without assessing the basic requirement and purpose of their acquisition."
"The financial implication on this account amounted to Rs.41.47 crore on rentals for just one year i.e. 2011-12, besides other incidental expenses of Rs 54.20 crore," it said.
The PAC is also dissatisfied with MEA stock reply "the search is on for suitable properties" that it has given whenever the panel members have sought to know the status of buying properties abroad.
Several aspects of the global estate management of MEA, remains unexplained.
For example, the MEA decided to purchase a property belonging to French government for establishing Indian Cultural Centre at Paris in March 2011 in spite of architect's report categorising it as unsuitable.
The Indian Mission sought a second from another architect who also raised the same anomalies yet the advises were ignored and the property was purchased in March 2011 for Rs 30.03 crore. The audit also pointed out the property was not utilised during three years after its purchase.
"Further, the Mission had incurred a recurring expenditure of Rs 1.24 crore per year on providing round-the- clock security to the building."
"The entire investment amounting to Rs 30.03 crore was unfruitful besides recurring expenditure of Rs 1.24 crore per annum on security," the CAG report said.