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Keonics saw Rs 500-crore scam during BJP rule: Priyank Kharge

Bengaluru: Armed with a Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) report, IT/BT Minister Priyank Kharge on Thursday claimed that state-run Keonics witnessed a scam to the tune of Rs 500 crore between 2019 and 2023 when the saffron party was in power.

The minister said that his department would be handing over the CAG report to the Justice HN Nagmohan Das Commission, which is probing allegations of corruption, especially the ‘40% commission’ charge, during the previous BJP government.

Priyank brought out the CAG report after the BJP demanded his resignation following the Keonics Vendors Association’s charge that they had to pay a 10-12% cut to officials in order to get payments for pending bills.

Reeling out numbers from the CAG report to buttress his point, a combative Priyank said items were procured at inflated rates ranging from 38% to 1,577%.

“Going by this, MLAs and the minister concerned from the previous government will be in trouble. Now, whose resignation will the BJP demand?” Priyank said.

The minister alleged that the audit report found glaring lapses on the part of the previous government by not taking up third-party evaluation, scrutinising bills and grossly flouting several norms set by the finance department in clearing bills in a hurried manner.

Priyank asserted that the CAG report found the Keonics had procured goods at a higher rate without analysing market rate, resulting in huge losses.

“To set up Type-1 Computer Lab for the Tribal Welfare Department, the price variation was 474%. Procurement ofcomputer accessories to set up labs saw a jump of 597%,” he pointed out.

Keonics paid Rs 63,720 to procure an amplifier, which is available in the market for Rs 3,799 — a 1,577% jump in procurement rate. One UPS was procured at Rs 29,200 against just Rs 3,200 in the market — a 822% variation, he said.

“CCTV and a monitor with six cameras were procured at Rs 6,72,600, which ideally costs only Rs 53,454 in the market. This is 1,158% higher than market price,” Priyank said.

Reacting to this, Keonics Vendors Association president Vasant Bangera defended the price variation. “A computer requires software that comes at a cost. Rates also go high because unlike a retail shop that provides one-year warranty, we provide 3-year warranty. What about the cost of transport, installation and all that?”

CAG findings

* Extra burden of Rs 47.76 cr due toprocurement at higher rates

*Payment of Rs 76.5 cr without third-party inspection

* Payments of Rs 71.5 cr without photo proof and inspection report

* Payment for materials supplied worth Rs 9.98 cr on forged third-party inspection reports

*Irregular payments of Rs10.56 cr on fake bills and photocopies

(Published 09 November 2023, 22:57 IST)

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