Audits imperative

Even in our day to day life , everywhere there is one or the other form of audit taking place, be it a family’s expenditure, a shop’s expenses or an institution’s spending. Where and how much was spent and what was the need or the circumstances under which money was spent is the rudiment definition of audit. How can reportedly, majority of Government departments in Jammu and Kashmir, afford to be shy of and adopt reticent attitude towards such an important entity as periodic audits sounds queer, strange and totally unwarranted. Audit of expenditure under basic standards is to ensure how funds provided by the government were spent and in particular cases, how revenues earned and spent by an institution were within prescribed norms and authorised by a competent authority. In fact, the audit of government expenditure is one of the chief components of audit. It is extremely important in preventing frauds and embezzlements. Recurring and rigorous audits are a guarantee of detecting and preventing irregular and fraudulent practices. It is strange that obstacles are created in the conduct of audit of expenditure by the Accountant General by various government departments in which lead is taken by Roads and Buildings Department.
That is not the end of the story, Accountant General’s office has been virtually pleading for this and Finance Department is also issuing instructions to “extend full cooperation” but of no avail. Contracts and agreements relating to public works and civil departments are required to be submitted to the Accountant General by the Roads and Buildings department for detailed examination but the said department does not bother to endorse the concerned copies to the AG’s office resulting in disruption in conducting audits. The words of wisdom say that if one hides or avoids, it establishes the guilt. The auditors are bound to scrutiny the contracts and agreements entered into by the department on behalf of the government and others and any type of humps deliberately created provide enough room for smelling a rat. We need clarification in an important point as to why as per reports, the audit for the year 2018-19 is still not conducted of these departments while the one for 2019-20 is shortly falling due?
Audit office is statutorily authorised as well as mandated upon to scrutinize, verify and examine all relevant documents, vouchers, bills, expenditure orders and authorisations, contracts and agreements reached at between the executing agencies and the concerned department on behalf of the government. This audit exercise verifies and looks at the entirety from the angle of prescribed rules and procedures and has to be satisfied about the same having been duly complied with and followed. If everything is alright and there is nothing which could come under the purview of violations, what for these avoiding tactics to the extent of parking at total non cooperation?. We appreciate the efforts of the Accountant General in not insisting upon the agreements and contracts and associated documents to be submitted to its office which by law it has authority for but an audit party was deputed to collect the documents on the spot from the Heads of the Departments of all the Public Works Departments and civil departments for both the financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20 but they had to draw a blank.
It should be made mandatory by the administrative hierarchy of the Finance Department that no UT Department should be in audit arrears. A line must be drawn in such sensitive matters where public expenditure is involved and audit arrears should be treated the same way as LPC without which, an employee cannot draw or get one’s salary after joining new posting on transfer. In other words “audit in arrears and no salary” should be the simple and workable solution mooted and implemented.