Public Auditors should aim to improve governance, monitoring

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New Delhi, Oct 17 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for redefining the role of public auditors with their focus being on good governance and said there was need for evolving an effective monitoring system relating to government programmes.

In his address to the 24th All India Conference of Accountants General yesterday Dr Manmohan Singh said a public auditor cannot be like the statutory auditor of a company, merely certifying the financial statements of an entity.

"His or her role should also not be restricted to tasting the regularity of transactions against the relevant rules. A public auditors focus ultimately has to be on good governance and audit processes need to oriented towards this wider governance perspective," he said.

The Prime Minister said the measurement of performance in government and the evaluation of government programs have traditionally been done by measuring inputs.

He, however, said expenditure does not always result in the intended benefits. This could be due to faulty programme design or poor implementation.

Dr Manmohan Singh said to measure the real efficiency of government schemes, it was necessary to develop a system of evaluating outcomes and, "beyond outcomes, evaluating impacts." The Prime Minister said government in the last few years has been attempting to move from monitoring outlays to monitoring outcomes by means of outcome budgets for the various Ministries and Departments.

The Prime Minister said while this was a step in the right direction, there was still considerable distance in putting in place an effective systems for monitoring final impacts.

Dr Manmohan Singh said with increasing public expenditure and the increased complexity of programmes and transactions, it was imperative that the audit set up is "vigilant and effective and is modernised in the passage of time so that public interest is truly safe-guarded." The Prime Minister said this would not only prevent wasteful expenditure and promote financial discipline and detect financial and procedural irregularities, but would also contribute to improving the quality of governance in the country.

Dr Manmohan Singh said the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General is one of the key pillars of Indian democracy. It plays a major role in ensuring the accountability of the executive to the legislature and thereby to the people of at large of this country.

The Prime Minister said liberalization and globalization have brought forth new issues that public auditors must address. To give an example, Public-Private Partnerships are becoming increasingly common in projects in the key infrastructure sectors of transport, power, urban infrastructure, tourism and railways. Audit needs, therefore, new skills to evaluate these complex arrangements.

Dr Manmohan Singh said the government has embarked upon a massive National e-Governance Action Plan for increased use of Information Technology in processes of government. This is expected to catalyze good governance.

In his address CAG Vinod Rai said that the existing provisions for audit in the country are restrictive.

Observing that efficient and effective delivery of public services, accountability and transparency are key concern of the democracy, the CAG said that it would endeavour to proactively assist the Executive to upgrade the quality of governance.


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