GUWAHATI, April 17: In sheer non-compliance with the provisions of the relevant Act, The Assam Small Industries Development Corporation Ltd (ASIDCL) did not obtain quotations through open tendering for the supply of steel cots, thereby led to an undue benefit of Rs 1.54 crore to the suppliers at the cost of the State exchequer due to fixation of rates on the higher side.
This has been revealed by the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) for the year ended on March 31, 2017.
ASIDCL dealt in procurement and supply of different items based on the requests from various State Government departments. The company has to procure such items under the ‘Marketing Assistance Scheme’ of the Assam Preferential Stores Purchase Act, 1989. The Act, among other things, provides that the items for supply to government departments must be procured from small scale cottage industries (SSIs). The Act further stipulates that in order to ensure reasonable and fair prices of the items, the company should invite tenders by advertisement in three or four newspapers in three consecutive issues giving one-month time to the SSI units.
In August 2011, the IGP (Logistics), Assam requested the company to provide rates for supply of steel cots as per speculation. The company, accordingly obtained rate quotations from a few SSI units in September 2011on an ad hoc basis for the items required in manufacturing of steel cots. According to the CAG report, the company did not obtain the quotations through open tendering in violation of the Act. In November 2011, the technical committee (TC) of the company approved a composite rate of Rs 3,958 per steel cot based on the item-wise rate quotations obtained by the company, the CAG report said.
Audit, according to the CAG report, observed that the composite rate of steel cot as fixed by the TC included Rs 1,917.50 (Rs 118 per sq. ft x 16.25 sq. ft. dimension) for 19 mm block board (a component of the steel cot). The audit further observed that the rate of block board considered (Rs 118 per sq ft.) by the TC for fixing the composite rate of steel cot was higher by Rs 45 per sq. ft. in comparison to the market rate (Rs 73 per sq. ft.) that prevailed during the period (September 2011), the CAG report said, and added: “Audit worked out the cost of block board required for each steel cot at Rs 1,186.25 based on the market rate. This was lower than the rate fixed the TC by Rs 731.25.”
According to the CAG report, the company issued 50 supply orders on 23 suppliers for procurement of 21,005 steel cots at the rate of Rs 3956 per piece during the period from August 2012 to October 2015. The suppliers, according to the CAG report, supplied the entire quantity of cots to different offices under the IGP from December 2012 to August 2016 at the cost Rs 8.31 crore. “The company thus extended an undue benefit of Rs 1.54 crore to the suppliers at the cost of the State exchequer,” the report said.