[Solved] Discuss the role of Public Accounts Committee in establishing accountability of the government to the people (UPSC GS-1 Mains 2017)

[Solved] Discuss the role of Public Accounts Committee in establishing accountability of the government to the people (UPSC GS-1 Mains 2017)

The Public Accounts Committee was set up in 1929 by Montague- Chelmsford Reforms and is called as the Mother of all Committees.

It consists of 22 members- 15 from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha who are elected by Parliament. No minister can become its member.

It establishes the accountability to the people as:

• Its main function is to examine the appropriation accounts and the finance accounts of the union government and any other accounts laid before the Lok Sabha.

• It examines public expenditure not only from legal and formal point of view to discover technical irregularities but also from the point of view of economy, prudence, wisdom and propriety to bring out the cases of waste, loss, corruption, extravagance, inefficiency and nugatory expenses

• It examines the accounts of state corporations, trading concerns and manufacturing projects and the audit report of CAG on them and accounts of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies.

• CAG works as the mentor, friend, philosopher and guide of PAC.

• It also examines money spent on any service during the financial year in excess of the amount granted by the Lok Sabha for that purpose.

• It can also make recommendations to streamline the administration for efficient, speedy and economical implementation of policy

• It provides for Parliamentary oversight over Executive decisions and acts as a check on slackness, negligence and even wrongdoing on the part of the Executive.

• It has representation from nearly all political parties and the head is from opposition party making the democracy meaningful in nature.

• Thus, it increases the awareness of public and increases the answerability of govt.

• PAC unearthed 2G scam and recently summoned the head of RBI to speak on demonetization.

However, there are some challenges like its work is of post- mortem in nature and it suffers from lack of technical expertise. Its recommendations are not binding in nature. Measure should be taken to improvise and reform PAC adequately.

How Public Accounts Committee help in establishing accountability of the government to the people?

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a financial committee constituted every year to examine the annual audit reports of submitted by the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) and reports its finding to the parliament.

  • PAC acts as the watchdog of the public purse by examining the audit report on appropriation account and finance account.
  • It scrutinise the appropriation account to verify:
  • If the funds were legally available.
  • If a competent authority sanctioned it’s use.
  • If the rules laid by procedure were followed.
  • PAC’s function has been sometimes criticised since it does not look into the policy aspect  and is only recommending. Yet, PAC has been in establishing financial accountability of the government to the people.
  • It further establishes the accountability of the government by examining the budgetary appropriations and accounts of the government and Reports of Comptroller and Auditor General (under article 151) on the execution of the projects and programmes by the various ministries.
  • Examining the demand for excess grants before they are presented to the Parliament for regularisation.
  • The committee examines public expenditure not only from legal and formal point of view to discover technical irregularities but also from the point of view of economy, prudence, wisdom and propriety to bring out the cases of waste, loss, corruption, extravagance, inefficiency and nugatory expenses.

Some issues and challenges:

  • PAC in India is not able to enforce the accountability of the government to the people in true sense because:
  • Even if it brings out the irregularities in the public expenditure there are no mechanisms to enforce the corrective measures.
  • It examines the expenditure which has already been done by the government.
  • Its recommendations are only advisory in nature and are not binding on the ministry of the day.
  • PAC has got no mandate to examine the policy in broader sense.

Demerits:

  • PAC in India is not able to enforce the accountability of the government to the people in true sense because-
  • Even if it brings out the irregularities in the public expenditure there are no mechanisms to enforce the corrective measures.
  • It examines the expenditure which has already been done by the government.
  • Its recommendations are only advisory in nature and are not binding on the ministry of the day.
  • PAC has got no mandate to examine the policy in broader sense.
  • However PAC at times, through its criticism of the inefficient public expenditure of the government, creates a strong public opinion against the government. The incumbent government to remain in power tries to rectify the inefficiency in its public expenditure and policy making. Thus the committee helps in enforcing accountability of the executive to the people.

However PAC at times, through its criticism of the inefficient public expenditure of the government, creates a strong public opinion against the government. The incumbent government to remain in power tries to rectify the inefficiency in its public expenditure and policy making. Thus the committee helps in enforcing accountability of the executive to the people.

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