Delhi government has found itself in the crosshairs of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that came down hard on it for allegedly ‘wasting public money’ on advertisements to highlight its ‘achievements’.
According to a CAG report, yet to be tabled in Delhi assembly, the Delhi government has spent a whopping Rs 28 crore to highlight the city government’s achievements through several advertisements and publicity campaigns outside the NCT of Delhi.
In its audit report for year 2015-16, the CAG has mentioned that Rs.25 crore incurred on advertisement and publicity campaign is not in conformity with the generally accepted principles of financial propriety as laid down by the Supreme Court. Earlier this year, the Arvind Kejriwal government had invited sharp criticism from BJP and Congress for reportedly hiking allocation for information and publicity.
These parties had criticized Kejriwal for spending public money on ‘self publicity’ amounted to corruption. Following this, the AAP government had decided to set aside Rs 526 crore that was allocated just for information and publicity.
In June, the CAG had rapped the government for its decision to spend huge amounts on nationwide publicity campaigns to connect with its people and terms it ‘unjustified, irregular’ and against the ‘basic financial tenets of public expenditure’. Soon after this, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had written a letter to CAG Shashi Kant Sharma and urged him to audit advertisements expenditure of the Centre and other states as well.
"Various kinds of misinformation are being spread about our government’s advertisement expenses. It is an outrageous lie which has been repeatedly stated that this expenditure is around Rs 500 crore, which in reality is not more than Rs 75 crore for the entire year, which I am sure will come out in your audit," Sisodia had said in his letter.
The advertisement spending of the AAP government, since its return to power in Delhi last year, has raised eyebrows with the political opponents questioning the expenditure amount.
On the occasion of its first anniversary in February this year, the CAG had said that the government should have focussed on Delhi rather than giving advertisements in different city editions of national newspapers and regional newspapers.
According to a RTI query, Kejriwal had disbursed a total amount of Rs 14.56 crore for advertising excluding broadcast from 10 February to 11 May this year in different editions of 26 national newspapers. Of this, Rs 2.49 crore was spent on Delhi editions, while the remaining went to advertorials for other cities. In addition, over Rs 6 crore was spent for advertorials in regional newspapers.