‘Rules flouted for procurement of laptops, tabs’
BBMP Commissioner writes to State governmentby Special Correspondent
One of the last important decisions of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) council was to utilise funds earmarked for various development works for the procurement of laptops and tablets. However, BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad has, in a letter to the State government, noted that this was against the rules.
The council, whose five-year term ended on September 10, had passed a resolution to re-appropriate special development grants earmarked for Assembly constituencies and wards. The council decided to use these funds to procure and distribute laptops and tablets to students from weaker socio-economic groups. While tablets were to be distributed to students of class five to 10, laptops were to be distributed to students pursuing higher studies.
This, the council had resolved, was essential, given that following the outbreak of COVID-19, many schools and colleges were conducting classes online.
However, in his letter, Mr. Prasad has noted that this sort of re-appropriation of funds was against the rules. The funds may be utilised only for the purpose for which they had been earmarked. However, he noted that the Standing Committee for Taxation and Finance had taken a suo motu decision, which was later passed by the council.
The Commissioner has also pointed out that the budget presented by the council over the past few years was unrealistic, as the actual revenue accrued was far lesser than the budgeted revenue.
Given the COVID-19 situation, the revenue mobilisation had been hit, which had adversely affected the BBMP’s finances. Mr. Prasad had mentioned in the council that the BBMP’s coffers were nearly empty, and that the bank accounts had just ₹58 crore while pending bills amounted to ₹2,575.25 crore and outstanding loans to ₹286.34 crore.
Incidentally, this is not the first time that Mr. Prasad has pointed out that the BBMP budget was unrealistic. Earlier, he had written to the State government stressing on the need to bring the civic body under the ambit of two laws – the Karnataka Local Fund Authorities Fiscal Responsibilities Act, 2003, and the Karnataka Municipalities Accounting and Budgeting Rules, 2006. The aim was to bring in fiscal discipline.