Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has inferred, from an audit report of the Delhi government’s spending on advertisements and publicity, that the AAP government’s expenditure had surged from the previous government’s Rs 25.25 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 81.23 crore in 2015-16. Taking into account the committed liabilities of the government, the actual cost of advertisement in the year may exceed Rs 114.21 crore, stated the report. The AAP and the BJP on Wednesday sparred in the Assembly with the latter accusing the ruling party of “unconstitutionally hiding” a purported CAG report “which exposes wastage of public money” on advertisements and demanded the House be “dissolved” over the issue. When Vijender Gupta demanded that the report be tabled in the House, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said he didn’t know of any such report.
According to an Indian Express report, “Test check of records of the GNCTD (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi) brought out expenditure of Rs 24.29 crore on advertisement and publicity campaigns that were not in conformity of fundamental principles governing expenditure from public funds and guidelines approved by the Supreme Court. Over 85 per cent of the expenditure of Rs 33.40 crore incurred in one specific publicity campaign pertained to advertisements released outside the NCT of Delhi, which was beyond the responsibility of the GNCTD…,” stated the report. Media advisor to CAG B S Chauhan said the audit report on advertisement and publicity was submitted to the Lieutenant Governor and the principal secretary (finance) on August 22. The period of scrutiny of the report is between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2016.
In 2013, the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) met advertisement expenditure with a budget of Rs 29.66 crore under ‘other charges’ and Rs 20.23 crore in 2014-15. In 2015-16, the DIP proposed an allocation of Rs 26.90 crore which included Rs 20 crore for ‘other charges’ and the balance for salaries and recurring expenditure. However, DIP was allocated Rs 500 crore under the head ‘Advertisement and Publicity’ and Rs 22 crore under the head ‘other charges’, totaling Rs 522 crore. This allocation was subsequently reduced to Rs 100 crore in the revised estimates, the report stated.