Economy India

AG’s Concerned on the theme ‘Sai India’

The CAG stated that its chief function is not only to examine facts and figures, and prepare quality audit reports, but also select relevant issues for auditing priority. ‘We must ensure that the work of the Parliamentary Committees and our own audit reports are harmonised and synchronised to the fullest extent possible. This is of utmost importance to ensure effective Parliamentary oversight over the Executive’ he added.

Shri Murmu said that Governments commit large-scale transformative interventions involving substantial public money in response to socio-economic demands of its constituents and it was becoming increasingly important to ensure that the benefits of these various public schemes and programmes actually reach the intended target groups and sectors. The CAG added that ‘our performance audits provide useful inputs on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of such interventions, which ultimately contributes to strengthening of legislative scrutiny’.

Talking about the themes of the conference the CAG stated that 15th Finance Commission has recommended a grant of Rs 4,36,361 crore to support various programmes of the duly constituted local governments for a five-year period between 2021 and 2026.  Keeping in view of this huge public fund disbursal across the country, one of the theme of discussion dealt with strengthening the audits of local bodies.  This is a significant step, as there is a need to assure that the grants are properly utilised and programmes and schemes are effectively implemented. Our audits of local bodies, therefore, need to verify whether the crucial fiscal steps, as recommended by the Commission, such as (i) setting up State Finance Commissions  (ii) acting upon its recommendations (iii) presenting the action taken to the state legislatures concerned (iv) putting the accounts of local bodies in the public domain and (v) fixing minimum rates for property taxes, have been met. Local government authorities would also need to independently verify   whether the grants provided for basic social services, such as sanitation and meeting the open defecation-free target, solid waste management,   drinking water provisions, rainwater harvesting and water recycling, have been effectively used for the purposes, as recommended.

Shri Murmu said that ‘another theme of the conference dealt with identifying ‘socially relevant’ audits. The thrust of a large number of government interventions   is for the social and economic uplift of the most deprived sections of our society. There is a pressing need to ensure the success of these programmes and to prioritise audit reviews, accordingly.  This will help both the government, as well as, Parliament to identify areas of deficient performance and ensure that the executive thrust on remedying the identified deficiencies are tackled as early and as effectively as possible.  The realm of governance is undergoing rapid and complex changes today. It has its own set of challenges. We see involvement of multiple actors in public service delivery and application of complex IT platforms to provide public policy solutions. It is inevitable that we too have to understand and assimilate these challenges, and evolve accordingly. We have already taken a few initiatives in this direction, by honing on our data analytics skills and by designing special accounting models for proper utilisation of the country’s natural resources’.  The next theme of this conference was on improving reporting on sustainability of state finances.

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