New Delhi: Funds collected by the Centre as cess for specific purposes such as education, sanitation and infrastructure have not been fully transferred to dedicated funds, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said in a report, while pointing out deficiencies in the collection and utilisation of these levies.
In the financial audit of the government for the year FY18 tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the CAG said the issue of short-transfer of cess collected in the Consolidated Fund of India for their dedicated accounts has been a recurring problem for many years.
There was a short-transfer of ₹4,891 crore collected as Swachh Bharat cess into the Rashtriya Swacchata Kosh since FY16, the year the cess was introduced. In case of road cess, the short transfer is ₹72,726 crore since FY11 and in case of clean energy, it is ₹44,505 crore.
“Comments on short transfer of funds with respect to road cess and clean energy cess have been repeatedly pointed out since 2010-11. However, accounting authorities have taken no action in this regard," according to the audit report signed by Mamta Kundra, additional deputy Comptroller and Auditor General.
The report also pointed out that the ₹94,000 crore collected since FY07 as secondary and higher secondary education cess has been retained in the Consolidated Fund of India contrary to procedures, though a dedicated fund has been created for its utilisation in August 2017.
This under-utilisation is despite the fact that education expenditure as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) is stagnating. India spends 2.7% of its GDP on education despite a constant demand from experts and academics to increase it to 6%. The introduction of cess for primary education and for secondary and higher education was an attempt to increase education spending through direct collection of some funds from taxpayers. While the primary education cess is in vogue since 2004-05, the secondary and higher education cess started from 2006-07.
With inputs from Prashant K Nanda