Thiruvananthapuram: The Comptroller and Auditor General report on Kerala’s public sector undertakings is out. And there are no prizes for guessing the toppers. The government monopoly in liquor sales made a profit that was larger than the losses caused by subsidizing food items.
The Kerala State Beverages Corporation is still one of the biggest revenue generators, more than making up for the losses incurred by the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation. The Kerala State Electricity Board was the most profitable government venture.
The beverages corporation made a profit of Rs 123.54 crore in the previous financial year, though the corporation had to forgo about Rs 2 crore as it forgot to collect medical cess from consumers.
In contrast, the Civil Supplies Corporation incurred a loss of Rs 89.11 crore.
Only 50 of the 111 public sector undertakings in Kerala turned in a profit. Their collective profit of Rs 498.47 crore was eclipsed by the collective loss made by the rest of the ventures - Rs 889.89 crore.
The electricity board reported a profit of Rs 140.42 crore, while the Kerala State Financial Enterprises contributed Rs 69.90 crore and the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation pitched in with Rs 30.49 crore.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation was the biggest drag with an annual loss of Rs 508.22 crore. The Cashew Development Corporation followed with a loss of Rs 127.95 crore.
The public sector undertakings employed 1.28 lakh people and had a turnover of Rs 19,194 crore on investment of Rs 19,933 crore, according to the report submitted by principal accountant general Amar Patnaik.
The PSUs had to pay Rs 24.57 crore as penal tax because they did not file tax returns on time.
The report also said that the electricity board added Rs 16.32 crore to its losses by delaying the tender process. The SCADA project’s estimated cost exceeded by Rs 129 crore because of the delay in submitting the project document and buying equipment. The board also lost Rs 202 crore which was due to it from the centre as part of the RAPDRP because it could not finish the work on time.
The board is yet to collect Rs 14.70 crore by way of rent for using electricity posts for other purposes.
The state government’s five greenfield projects launched in 2010 caused a loss of Rs 11.59 crore for lack of coordination.
The Kerala Agro Machinery Corporation came in for criticism in the report for incurring a loss of Rs 61.28 crore by buying equipment in violation of norms set by the Store Purchase Manual.
The Minerals Development Corporation lost sand worth Rs 6.42 crore due to sheer incompetence. The sand mined from dams was left carelessly to be swept back.
The KSRTC may be the biggest money-loser but that did not prevent the corporation to dole out Rs 3.24 crore to reward its employees’ performance.
The report also throws light on the plight on the inland water navigation of Kerala. Though the central government has spent Rs 228 crore between 1994 and 2015 for the development of inland waterways in the state, cargo transport was made possible only on 37 kilometers. Vast swathes running up to 168 kilometers are still out of bounds for transport as the government chooses to ignore the fishing nets that block the backwaters between Kollam and Kottappuram.
The way is supposed to be developed up to 421 kilometers but only 114 kilometers are completed. The reason is the slow-paced acquisition of land.