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Scams in UPA’s closet; CAG finds faults in Reliance’s KG-D6 marketing margin, Oil Ministry implicated

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(FILES) In this photograph taken on June 6, 2013 Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani poses as he arrives for the company's annual general meeting in Mumbai. India's 100 richest people are for the first time all billionaires, according to an annual Forbes survey released September 25, 2014, with the country's top earners worth a third more combined than last year. Industrialist Mukesh Ambani topped the list for an eighth straight year with a 23.6-billion dollar fortune, Forbes India said on its website. AFP PHOTO/Indranil MUKHERJEE/FILES
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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed discrepancies in the financial dealing between the Oil Ministry and Reliance Industries.

The CAG report presented to the Parliament on Tuesday said that the Oil Ministry in March 2009 had allowed Reliance Industries to charge a marketing margin on KG-D6 gas in US dollars rather than in rupees. This resulted in a Rs. 201 crore excess in subsidy payout.

The report said that while the marketing margin for GAIL was fixed in Indian rupees, for RIL the same was done in US dollars.

“Additional impact of charging of marketing margin by contractor…on 15 million standard cubic meters per day of KG-D6 gas (supplied to fertilizer units on an average) in excess of marketing margin allowed to GAIL, for the period from May 2009 to March 2014 works out to Rs 201.40 crore,” the CAG report said.

“Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for KG-D6 block did not provide for marketing margin component. The contractor (RIL), however, has been charging marketing margin based on the energy equivalent of gas supplied ie USD 0.135 per mmBtu,” the report said.

According to the report, charging marketing margin for a commodity produced, marketed and consumed domestically in US dollars “is incongruous with Indian market.” The report also revealed that the change meant that the margin which was Rs 244.31 per thousand cubic meters (mscm) in 2010-11 was increased to Rs 325.51 per mscm in 2013-14.

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AAP’S Media Spend Is Four Times That Of Previous Government: RTI Reply

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP's one year in power in 2016

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Picture of Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally. Wikimedia Commons
  • The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs 70.5 crore
  • The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 percent compared to the Congress government
  • A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP’s one year in power in 2016

The AAP government has spent an average of Rs 70.5 crore annually in the past three years on advertisements — four times more than the previous government’s expenditure on print, electronic and outdoor advertising, according to an RTI reply.

In the first year after assuming office in February 2015, the current government spent Rs 59.9 crore on advertisements, Rs 66.3 crore the next year and Rs 85.3 crore up to December 31, 2017, the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) said in reply to an RTI application by IANS.

The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs 70.5 crore. The Congress’ average was Rs 17.4 crore in the last five years of its rule (2008-2013).

Also Read: AAP welcomes BJP’s stand on inter-faith marriages

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers.

For instance, when the AAP government completed its first and second anniversary in 2016 and 2017, leading newspapers in the capital carried full-page advertisements, highlighting the achievements of the government.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there. Wikimedia Commons
The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there. Wikimedia Commons

In the run-up to celebrating its three years in office, the government in the first two weeks of February carried advertisements flashing pictures of the Chief Minister or other ministers. The highlights included the inauguration of community toilets, excellence awards distribution for students, a government meeting on “smart gaon”, and invitation of applications for scholarship schemes.

The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 percent compared to the Congress government.

Also Read: Blow for Kejriwal: EC recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs

But the average advertisement rate charged by a leading English newspaper, comparing the Congress government and AAP government periods, has increased by about 17 percent, according to DAVP.

For the same period, the average rate charged by another leading English newspaper has increased by about 35 percent.

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP’s one year in power in 2016.

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers. Wikimedia Commons
According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers. Wikimedia Commons

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements.

Last year, the government came under an opposition attack after Lt. Governor Anil Baijal asked the AAP to cough up Rs 97 crore spent on advertisements, allegedly to promote the party instead of the government. The LG order was based on a report by the Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA).

Also Read: 5 Years of AAP: How Society Has Been Backstabbed by ChandaChor Kejriwal

The regulatory authority asked the Delhi government to assess the expenditure in issuing “those advertisements/advertorials in which the name of the Aam Aadmi Party is mentioned” and other factors.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there.

Delhi government spokesperson Nagendar Sharma said he has “no comments” to offer on the increase in expenditure.

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements. Wikimedia Commons
The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken said: “They (AAP) are using the power of advertisements to put pressure on TV (channels) and newspapers. They are doing it ruthlessly”.

BJP MLA and Delhi Assembly Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta termed the government’s spending on advertisements as “irrational”. “Misuse of public money in this way is completely unjustified and unethical,” Gupta told IANS. (IANS)