Sunday, August 7, 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
August 05, 2011 06:26 PM | [image: Bookmark and

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
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 committeemembers 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 committeemembers.

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 Rs 93,000 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
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."*