86% of BBMP budget was used to pay old bills
Between 2012 and 2014, the state government gave the city corporation Rs 6,498 crore for various projects, documents show.
Announcing new projects for Bengaluru in the upcoming municipal budget could well be empty talk if what happened with money in the previous city budget is anything to go by: four-fifths of the allocations in 2016-17 went towards clearing pending bills.
After paying for projects that have spilled over from previous years, the municipal corporation had barely enough money to fund infrastructure development projects announced in 2016-17. Only 14% of the spend was toward projects announced in the current financial year, according to an analysis of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike's bill register, a document that tracks works, bills and payments. As opposed to that, the civic body paid off over 8,000 pending bills. There is no estimate available on how many old bills still remain.
The backlog is severe. Sample this: The oldest bill dates back to a work order issued on Oct 6, 2007, for the preparation of a detailed project report for a vehicle parking structure at Freedom Park. The consultant, Mathew and Ghosh Architects, was paid Rs 27 lakh in June 2016.
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Pendency is the legacy of mismanagement over several years, according to B.PAC chief executive Revathy Ashok.
“The new budget needs to understand the ageing of liabilities and prioritise them. You won't get vendors to take up critical work until dues are cleared. The budget will have to desist from putting too much money on large infrastructure,“ she said. Alternatively , Janaagraha CEO Srikanth Viswanathan urged the state government to step in to address the civic body's loans and bills.
Between 2012 and 2014, the state government gave the city corporation Rs 6,498 crore for various projects, documents available with ET show. “Why is the government doling out grants when there's so much pendency ,“ former BJP councillor NR Ramesh asks, adding: “The BBMP needs quarterly auditing of accounts to bring things under control.“
BBMP Taxation and Finance Committee chairperson MK Gunashekar explains: “There are two kinds of projects: short-term and longterm. Short-term works finish under a year but we mostly have long-term projects that last beyond a year. So there's bound to be a spillover.“
On the pending bills, he said: “Pendency was much more during the BJP's rule. It has come down in our (Congress) period.“