CWG CORRUPTION WATCH: Dash to riches in ‘friends wealth games’ – FWG iron bars instead of gold awaits at the end of the long haul ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY JAYANTA ROY CHOWDHURY
New Delhi, Oct. 21: Not everyone sprinting to gold at the Commonwealth Games seems to have been an athlete.
The sporting event has been dubbed “the friends and relatives Games” by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s audit team, which has unearthed how select people within the organising committee received super-quick salary hikes and promotions.
Some examples cited by the auditors:
•The salaries of six organising committee employees were raised by between 125 per cent and 350 per cent in just three years.
•P.K. Shrivastava, a director in the committee and believed to be close to committee chief Suresh Kalmadi, saw his salary doubled in just two years.
•A lady project officer, Sangeeta Badhwar, also known to be close to Kalmadi, too had her salary doubled in two years besides being promoted to director.
•Another lady project officer, Prerna Bali, whose husband is a key Delhi government official, received a 125 per cent hike in two years.
•Two more Kalmadi aides —director Prithvi Raj and project officer C.S. Venugopal —had their salaries tripled in three years.
•Former cyclist Amar Singh was promoted from project officer to director within a year and a half and received a 250 per cent pay hike.
Not everybody was equally lucky. Raj Singh, a director in the organising committee, earned a basic monthly pay of Rs 35,690, but fellow directors Shrivastava and Badhwar drew basic monthly salaries of Rs 76,250 and Rs 73,125, respectively.
“The more we check, the more we find cases that are against the rules,” said one of the audit officials, who are now going through reams of paper at the offices of the event’s organisers.
The audit team’s report says: “The pay package of the staff/officers was given without fixing any norms and passing of financial and administrative guidelines. Some officials were promoted… within one year of their appointment.”
It adds that “there was no justification of general revision of pay structure in just two years” and explains that in public sector undertakings, pay revision takes place after five years and in government departments, after 10 years.
The organising committee apparently told the auditors it had granted the salaries and hikes “influenced by (the) high profile of the Games, project nature of the Games, economic conditions, applicant data trends and attrition data trends… besides stating that (the) talent sourcing strategy (was) one of the key factors influencing the successful delivery of the Games.”
The audit team also mentions “irregularities in interior decoration contracts, files and records which have gone missing”.
“Piecing together the story of this Games will be one big job,” an audit official said.
For instance, an inspection report on broadcast rights that the auditors wrote just before the Games cited “irregularities in selling broadcasting rights through Fast Track Sales Ltd as consultant”.
It said “no detailed technical evaluation of the bidders was carried out” and that Fast Track was hired although it had proposed a higher commission than the other bidder, causing the country a projected loss of Rs 5.2 crore.
The report said tenders were received from only two firms: the Australia-based M/s Sports Marketing and Management (SMAM) and the London-based Fast Track Events.
SMAM and Fast Track were invited to make their presentations on June 6, 2006, and their proposals were placed before the board. SMAM had proposed a 12.5 per cent commission while Fast Track had proposed a 15 per cent commission.
Yet, “the executive board approved M/s Fast Track Sales Ltd as consultant for international broadcasting rights only on the basis of suggestions made by president and CEO, CGF, and chairman, OC, CWG”, the report said.
Mike Fennell and Mike Hooper are the president and CEO, respectively, of the Commonwealth Games Federation, and Kalmadi is the chairman of the Games organising committee.
Till as late as April 20 this year, Fast Track had failed to strike any deal in the UK or Ireland, against an anticipated income of $7.5 million from broadcast rights from the region, the inspection report said. Eventually, the organising committee told the auditors that talks were on with the BBC for a contract at a far lower fee of $3.36 million.
The report said: “Thus, the consultant was not successful in timely finalisation of the broadcasting rights agreement, and this resulted in a projected loss of revenue of Rs 18.63 crore.”