There should be one common platform for PACS of parliament and state legislatures: Lok Sabha Speaker

New Delhi: President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated Centennial Year Celebration of Public Accounts Committee in the Central Hall of Parliament House, today.

Vice-President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu; Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla and Chairperson, Public Accounts Committee of Parliament of India, Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, graced the occasion and addressed the distinguished gathering. Union Ministers, Members of Parliament, Presiding Officers of State Legislative Bodies, Chairpersons of Public Accounts Committees of States, foreign delegates and several other dignitaries attended the inaugural session.

Inaugurating the two-day Centennial Celebration programme, President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind said that in a democracy, Parliament is the embodiment of the people’s will and parliamentary committees work as its extension and enhance its functioning. Emphasing that accountability is central to governance in parliamentary democracy, the President said that since it is the Parliament that grants permission to the Executive to raise and spend funds, it has the duty to assess if funds were raised and spent accordingly or not. Parliamentary Committees, especially the PAC,  ensure administrative accountability of the Executive towards the Legislature. Without them, a parliamentary democracy would be rendered incomplete. It is through the PAC that citizens keep a check on the government finances, the President said.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, the President said that the PAC has lived up to the Gandhian ideals and expectations. Its record over the decades has been commendable and exemplary and its functioning has been praised by independent experts too. He further added that the Committee has examined public expenditure not only from a legal and formal point of view to find out technical irregularities, if any, but also from the point of view of the economy, prudence, wisdom, and propriety. Expressing hope, the President said that the Centennial Celebration of the Public Accounts Committee would provide an ideal platform for discussion of ways to make the Executive more accountable and thus to improve people’s welfare.

Speaking on this occasion, the Vice President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha said that Public Accounts Committee along with the Public Estimates Committee and the Public Undertakings Committee constitute the triad of ‘permanent vigilance’ over governmental activities and the attendant expenditure. In developing economies where management of public finances has been a major issue of concern, Public Accounts Committee seeks to check wasteful expenditure by seeking to ensure accountability, transparency and good governance. He said that the reports of PAC and constant monitoring by the Committee through Action Taken Reports result in continuous improvement in the system of governance and policy. By doing so, the Committee has enhanced the respect of the people for the ‘oversight’ function of the Parliament, the Vice-President added. 

Highlighting the role of democratic institutions in nation building, Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla, said that, today, these institutions are being seen as effective platforms to solve the problems of the people and fulfillment of their expectations. Shri Birla further added that our biggest achievement has been that despite several problems, in these seven decades, we have emerged as the largest and most effective democracy in the world. The main responsibility of democratic institutions is to make the government accountable, accountable and transparent to the people. Parliamentary committees have contributed significantly in making this possible through their functions. In its journey of hundred years, the Public Accounts Committee has made a significant contribution in maintaining the supremacy of the Legislature and Parliament, Shri Birla said.

Further speaking on the role of the PAC, Shri Birla said that in a developing country like India, the constructive suggestions of this Committee have not only promoted the optimal use of financial resources but have also helped in improving the policies and programs of the government. Non-partisan functioning of Parliamentary Committees and the tradition of generally accepting the recommendations of the committee by the government  show the maturity of our parliamentary system, said Shri Birla. Emphasizing on the need for better coordination of the PACs at the Central and State levels, Shri Birla suggested that since there are many issues of common interest between the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and the Public Accounts Committees of the States, there should be one common platform for PACs of the Parliament and the State Legislatures. This will ensure better coordination and greater transparency and accountability of the Executive. The basic objective of every democratic institution should be to serve the public, fulfilling their expectations and expectations, said Shri Birla.

Speaking on this occasion, Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the Committee  works on non-party lines with a spirit of dedication and service to the country. This has enabled the Committee to function as a united team and adhere to the healthy convention of submitting unanimous Reports which truly reflect the non-partisan spirit of the Committee. Shri Chowdhury added that during the hundred years of its existence, the Committee has broken new grounds in many fields, extended the scope of its examination. Over the decades, the examination of accounts by the PAC accomplishes the aim of enforcing public accountability in the transactions of Government business. And in this manner, the committee contributes towards maintaining the standard of efficiency and financial propriety in the running of the administration.

On this occasion, the President of India released the Centennial Souvenir of Public Accounts Committee of Parliament of India. The President of India also inaugurated an Exhibition showcasing the century long journey of the Public Accounts  Committee.

Subsequent to the Inaugural Session, the Public Accounts Committee is deliberating on four agenda themes on the working of the Committee over the two days celebration programme.  The Thematic Sessions include discussions on the following agenda items:

(i)            Functioning of PAC in Present Times, Challenges and the Way Forward: Realigning PAC’s Approach; Collecting Information from Non-Governmental Sources; and, Assessing Outcomes of Programmes/Schemes/Projects;

(ii)           Implementation of Recommendations of PAC: Adherence to timelines and mechanism for strict compliance;

(iii)          PAC as a Development Partner: Focusing on strengthening of systems and promoting good governance ;

(iv)         Impact of PAC: Ensuring citizens’ right to due process and value for taxpayers’ money.