Friday, October 21, 2011

HPCL’s Delhi office lists Rs19 crore expenses on gifts, flowers, jewellery, a lot of it on parliamentarians

HPCL’s Delhi office lists Rs19 crore expenses on gifts, flowers, jewellery, a lot of it on parliamentarians
Published on Oct 19 2011 // BUSINESS AND ECONOMY, Delhi, India, LATEST NEWS, Maharashtra, Photo Show, slideshow

dilhi : Moneylife Digital Team
Much of this apparently unaccounted expenditure has been incurred on visits of parliamentary committee members, who are in fact forbidden by protocol from receiving gifts

At a time when Hindustan Petroleum is said to have a lot of money blocked in dues from airlines and other big businesses, it looks like the oil distributor is spending a lot on some inexplicable items.

Ledger entries for Hindustan Petroleum’s Delhi coordination office account reveal that the Navratna company has spent substantial amounts on hotel bills, gifts, flowers and jewellery. Since 2006, about Rs19 crore has been spent on such items. In 2010-11 alone, the company’s Delhi office spent some Rs1.28 crore on this account.

Repeated phone calls and an email message to the HPCL spokesperson did not yield any response.

A major part of the expenses are attributed to visits by member of parliamentary committees. According to parliament rules, such committee members are entitled to stay at government guest houses and they are paid travel and other allowances, so it is unclear why HPCL, a public sector unit, is bearing the expenses of these members.

Apart from travel and accommodation expenses, the HPCL office also lists expenses on gifts, shawls, mementoes and lunch for these committee members.

In 2010-11, expenses on such gifts totalled Rs51,510 and some shawls were bought at a cost of Rs7,396, as per entries on 17 and 27 January 2011.

There are also other entries like Rs93,000 worth of mementoes for parliamentary members on 12 January 2011 and Rs12,040 for “parliamentary committee expenses” on 11 Februray 2011. In fact, protocol forbids giving or receiving of such gifts by parliamentarians.

Another large amount has been paid for taxi bills and the money is debited against the names of various individuals. More than Rs1 lakh was paid towards the stay of some executive at Mumbai’s Trident Hotel in 2009.

Ravi Srivastava, former sales manager, HPCL, who lost his job after blowing the whistle on the adulterant marker case (read, “Hindustan Petroleum whistleblowers not reinstated even a year after HC order), has alleged that it is likely the expenses shown have been appropriated by some HPCL staff.

“Some of the names against which expenses are mentioned are employees of HPCL. Why do you want to pay money to your own employees outside their salary,” Mr Srivastava asked.

He said this was an indication that money was being swindled after showing some bogus expenditure entries on paper. “And why should a PSU gift shawls and mementoes to members of expert committees, when they are subsidised by the government itself,” he said.

Mr Srivastava believed that such swindling was possible at the Delhi office as there are no checks on expenses there. “In HPCL’s other offices, accounts have to be audited, and there is strict surveillance. So the people who want to make some additional money do it through the Delhi office where such expenditure is not checked.”

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