Auditors should partner the Governemnt in Social Sector Programmes: President
24TH ACCOUNTANTS GENERAL CONFERENCE INAUGURATED
FOCUS ON GOOD GOVERNANCE: CAG
President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil said that auditors should partner the Government and pay specific heed to social sector programmes to ensure that the objectives of social justice and equity are met. She was inaugurating the XXIVth Accountants General Conference, here today. She said that issues relating to gender disparity, access to health care and quality education, rural development, employment and social security must be highlighted in audit reports. Observing that one of the biggest challenges is the leakages in the delivery system, the President said that effective audit and monitoring can curb such tendencies. The inaugural function was also addressed by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and Shri Rup Chand Pal, Chairman of the Committee on Public Undertakings.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Shri Vinod Rai in his address said that the objective of this year’s conference of Accountants General is to focus on efficacy and efficiency in audit and accounts thereby strengthening good governance, transparency and accountability. Observing that the public audit is not a one time exercise but a continuing process, the CAG said that auditors are able to provide very useful inputs through regular insight and oversight audit reviews.
The CAG said that efficient delivery of public services, proper management and control of public resources, high level of accountability and transparency are hallmarks of good governance in a democratic society. In recent years, Government has undertaken a number of major initiatives intended to significantly improve the quality of delivery of public services. There have also been fast paced developments in government’s expenditure pattern. There is greater devolution of resources directly to the societies, NGOs and other implementing agencies at state, district, block and village level for implementing various major developmental programmes and schemes. To provide greater flexibility in spending Government funds, they are also authorized to keep such funds outside Government accounts. In doing so, there is an immediate need to put in place a strong accountability mechanism for these agencies. The Government is also actively promoting public private partnerships in the key infrastructure sectors to minimize the infrastructure deficiency in the country. Economic liberalization in its wake has shifted the role of Government from being a monopolistic player in certain sectors to that of a catalyst and monitoring agent. The latter function is being carried out through Regulators in various sectors of the economy. Each such initiative of Government must have concomitant response by Audit. The CAG noted that management and accountability of public debt is another key challenge to the Government and its audit. Due to considerable repercussions of future debt servicing on the public budgets concerned, audit of public debt acquires increasing importance. The CAG is also facilitating the transition from a cash based accounting system to an accrual based system. Twenty one states have agreed to migrate to accrual based accounting. The present system of accounting in the Government based on cash, acts as a limiting factor in correct estimation of fiscal indicators, assets and liabilities of the Government. A vigilant auditor must see that all the transactions of receipts and expenditure of the Government are appropriately treated to ensure that the key fiscal indicators are correctly estimated and there are no instances of important transactions of issue of bonds, securities etc. being omitted to understate these indicators. As Governments move towards adopting accrual system of accounting, it will facilitate more accurate determination of debt sustainability and overall fiscal imbalance, the CAG said.
Welcoming the delegates, Ms. Bharati Prasad, Deputy CAG said that the activities of the Indian Audit & Accounts Department have increased manifold with the increase in the activities and fund flow of the Government of India and State Governments, PSUs, government departments and other organizations, introduction of new areas of audit such as Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions, supporting the Government in its efforts to strengthen internal control framework in the various ministries, recommending accounting reforms and accounting standards through the Government Accounting Standards Advisory Board. The CAG of India has also now a significant presence in the United Nations System, has bilateral arrangements with several countries which has led to a number of visiting international delegates and trainees attending training programmes conducted by the CAG of India.
The three day conference will deliberate on auditing for good governance, desirable reforms in the Government accounts system so as to ensure transparency and facilitate accountability. The conference will also focus on possible green field areas for audit such as public-private partnerships, environment and climate change, E-Governance, Social Audit and audit of Regulators.