Khanna says can’t authorise expenditure in absence of approval from prez, SG

 New Delhi, May 29:

Indian Olympic Association’s finance committee chairman Anil Khanna on Friday defended his decision not to give clearance for hotel bookings relating to Tokyo Games in 2019, saying “FC has no power to approve even one rupee expenditure” without sanction from either the president or secretary general.

             IOA President Narinder Batra on Thursday had asked Khanna to furnish “factual position” on why there was a delay in clearance for booking of 15 twin rooms. Batra had said the delay has incurred a loss of nearly Rs 73 lakh to the IOA. The bookings were for 18 nights.

             In his reply through a letter to IOA treasurer Anandeshwar pandey, Khanna said the finance committee (FC) had a meeting in June 2019 on the matter but it chose not to clear the bookings as there was no administrative approval to do so.

             “As regards Tokyo hotel expenses I have verified that the FC was presented a note to make payment in June 2019. FC noted on June 15 that before any payment is made administrative approval of the president and secretary general is required, which was not available on the file,” Khanna wrote in the letter.

             “FC took the correct decision. I will now be asking for a report from the finance department as to what action was taken by the IOA office and how and where did any administrative lapse take place.”

             The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for July-August, was postponed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

             Khanna’s defence came amid the widening rift between Batra and secretary general Rajeev Mehta who have been at loggerheads for some time.

             On Thursday, in a letter to Khanna, Batra wrote: “You as Chair of Finance Committee, in your own wisdom decided not to clear it in June 2019 and kept pending by (sic) finally clearing it in February 2020 when the rate was almost USD 1080/1090 per twin room.

             “IOA has now incurred a loss of Rs 72,84,600 due to the delay at your end as Chair of finance committee or by the entire Finance Committee. I request for a factual position on the above at the earliest.”

             Khanna made it clear that the FC cannot on its own ask the treasurer to sign a cheque.

             “IOA FC has no administrative power to approve even 1 rupee expenditure. We, as a committee, have always maintained this principle,” Khanna, also a senior vice president, wrote.

             “After administrative approval of expenditure either by the president of secretary general, the FC ensures the above and thereafter cheque is signed by the treasurer and either president or SG.”

             Khanna said FC’s job is to keep an eye on the administrators who are the only ones to approve expenditure.

             “Our role is to examine that the IOA is not exceeding budgets and financial appraisal.

             “…IOA has well laid out procedures and IOA expenditure as approved by the EC is incurred with due diligence. I give credit to well established rules of IOA.”

             Khanna also seemed to be taking a dig at Batra, suggesting that the IOA president should “ideally” have addressed the issue to Pandey who has the authority to sign cheques.

             He said he was writing to the treasurer and not to Batra, who has sought a reply from Khanna.

             “I am expected to liaise with treasurer and not the president or secretary general,” Khanna said in the letter. PTI