Defenceinfo Bureau Report
A news clip titled “Top Generals mismanaged funds” was carried by a few television channels on October, 23. The matter pertains to certain observations raised by the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) with regard to expenditure incurred by operational commands through the Army Commanders Special Financial Powers.
The news reportage gives a misleading impression of some widespread losses having been incurred due to mismanagement and lack of application on the part of the senior leadership of the Army. A viewer would also be led to believe that there was some personal agenda or misappropriation involved. This gains significance in the modern time when scams are the flavour of India society. The channels have also stated that an inquiry into the matter by the Ministry of Defence is in the offing.
The Army commanders special financial power deals with funds which are released to commands involved in active operations to meet emergent requirement of operational stores. The scope and utility of the fund is limited by financial statute and they are subject to scrutiny right up to the level of the CGDA as is quite evident in this case.
Being public money it is subject to a number of checks and balances, the main being sanction after due vetting by the Integrated Financial Advisor (IFA) who is a bureaucrat from the revenue department of the Ministry of Defence. It is the IFA who advises the Army Commander on the use of this fund to the extent of clearing the file for financial propriety. Therefore, interaction between the revenue department and the army is ensured in the use of the funds.
This apart an elaborate system has been evolved which starts with the identification of the need at the unit level and goes on to include the financial sanction, procurement and the release of the stores to the units. Thus there is involvement of a number of agencies down to the unit level and across all formation headquarters.
It is, therefore, not the prerogative of the Army generals alone by which the funds are utilised. They are a part of the system as are many other officers of different ranks and different establishments. To isolate one particular rank and structure is not in the right spirit unless some specific case of improper utilisation comes to light.
Observations raised by the CGDA are an ongoing process aimed at refining the system while also checking for some impropriety. There has been no charge of impropriety by the CGDA.
The Ministry of Defence has given no indication of holding an inquiry on the subject. To this extent the reportage seems to be factually wrong.