Agri export corpn’s onion deal caused Rs2.8-cr loss: CAG Audit Report..

Failing to stock onions in a proper manner, the corporation sold 7.16 lakh kg of onions for Rs 84 lakh, causing a loss of Rs 89 lakh, while stock worth Rs 1.9 crore was damaged.

Even as onion prices had gone through the roof several times in the past two years, around 7.8 lakh kg of the commodity were damaged due to poor storage conditions in stores of Punjab Agri Export Corporation Limited during the financial year 2014–15. Ironically, the stock was purchased for release in the market to keep onion prices under control in Punjab. In its report tabled in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha this week, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out that the onion deal made by the corporation had caused a loss of Rs 2.79 crore. CAG observed that the damage to over 7.8 lakh stored onions alone caused a loss of Rs 1.9 crore. The auditor pointed out that in May 2014, the Centre had informed Punjab that onion crop had been damaged in Maharashtra due to inclement weather. The Centre also advised Punjab to purchase onion from Maharashtra and release the stock in the local market when prices showed an upward trend. In June-July 2014, Punjab purchased 15 lakh kg of onions worth Rs 3.63 crore from Maharashtra. According to CAG, the corporation had purchased this quantum of onions despite the fact that special stores for the purpose were not available. Besides, the corporation was lacking in experience and adequate manpower for restacking of stocks every 2–3 weeks, which is mandatory as the average shelf life of fresh onions is as many weeks, the auditor observed. Whereas the corporation sold 7.16 lakh kg of onions for Rs 84 lakh, causing a loss of Rs 89 lakh, the rest of the stock (52 per cent of the total) worth Rs 1.9 crore was damaged. While replying to the auditor’s query in August 2015, the corporation stated that though the exercise didn’t yield profit, its objective was to keep prices under control, which had been achieved. However, CAG rapped the corporation and observed, “It (corporation) was not able to release the stock in the market when the prices were expected to be at their peak because more than 50 per cent of the procured onions were damaged.”

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