Thiruvananthapuram: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has slammed the organisers of Kochi Muziris Biennale for ‘unjustified’ expenditure of Rs 38.03 lakh out of the government grant for organising the biennial art extravaganza.
A report released by CAG revealed that Kochi Biennale Foundation had utilised the grant for renovation and maintenance of its Mumbai office at a cost of Rs 38.03 lakh, which was unrelated to hosting of the art event, the report stated.
The government had released Rs five crore in December 2010 as initial grant to KBF, which hosted the first two editions of the extravaganza — an international platform for contemporary art.
An additional Rs four crore grant was sanctioned in September 2011 for conducting the event, the report said.
The event was termed ‘successful’ as it had shown an increase trend in foreign tourists for October 2012-February 2013 period and subsequently increase in the tourism revenue.
On being pointed out, the Tourism department stated that the expenditure was incurred for renovation and maintenance of Mumbai office of KBF ‘for the convenience of artists participating in the event at Kochi’.
Stating that the department’s reply was ‘not tenable’ as the funds had been released to conduct Kochi Biennale only, the report said that urgent steps should be taken to recover the amount from KBF.
The action of KBF justifying the expenditure on renovation and maintenance of its branch office at Mumbai and its rent payment was ‘unwarranted’ as incurring such expenditure from state budget was irregular.
In terms of provisions of Kerala Financial Code (KFC), prior sanction of the state government is necessary for incurring expenditure out of government funds on ceremonies connected with inaugurations and should be limited to the minimum absolutely necessary, it said.
Audit observed that KBF incurred an amount of Rs 36.38 lakh for the inaugural function of the event, for which prior permission.