Majority of Govt deptts continue to treat audit paragraphs as ‘trash’

No improvement even after fresh directives of CS

Transparency in utilization of funds remains dream

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Mar 27: Majority of the State Government departments have not stopped the practice of treating as ‘trash’ the audit paragraphs contained in numerous reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India even after latest and explicit directions from the Chief Secretary and serious concern by the Accountant General (Audit).
Moreover, by adopting continuous adamant attitude, officers who are at the helm of affairs in these departments have indirectly conveyed that they don’t want transparency and accountability in the utilization of funds.
The first ever detailed instructions in this regard were issued by the Finance Department vide Circular No.PAC/Misc/570/97/118 dated June 9, 1997 whereby all the departments of the State Government were directed to intimate to Public Accounts Committee and Committee on Public Undertakings the action taken or proposed to be taken by them on the audit paragraphs featuring in the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India irrespective of the fact whether these are taken up by the committees for discussion or not within three months of the presentation of reports in the State Legislature.
Similarly, the Action Taken Notes on the recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee and Committee on Public Undertakings were to be furnished within six months of the making of such recommendations.
However, these instructions were not complied with by majority of the departments which led to piling up of the pending Action Taken Notes. Taking serious note of this, Sushil Kumar Thakur, Accountant General (Audit) J&K vide Communication No. Rep/2-5/2018-19/415 dated January 8, 2019 conveyed his serious concern to the Chief Secretary B V R Subrahma-nyam over continuous inaction.
“Despite the instructions of the Finance Department dated June 9, 1997 and of General Administration Department dated July 26, 2017, there has not been any significant improvement in the responsiveness of the Executive”, the Accountant General conveyed the Chief Secretary while seeking his intervention.
Acting on the request of the AG, the General Administration Department, on the instructions of the Chief Secretary, issued a fresh Circular No.09 dated February 14, 2019 asking the Administrative Secretaries to take immediate measures and have Action Taken Notes on the audit paragraphs featuring in the audit reports for the period 2000-01 to 2015-16 furnished to the Accountant General without any further delay.
However, even the latest instructions have not been taken seriously by majority of the Government departments, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “what to talk of furnishing Action Taken Notes the departments have not even initiated discussion on the same with the concerned officials”.
“Only few departments have submitted Action Taken Notes that too of only some audit paragraphs while as majority of audit paragraphs are still pending”, said an officer of the Accountant General’s office on the condition of anonymity, adding “it is a matter of serious concern that even after instructions from the highest level (Chief Secretary) the departments of the State Government have not mend their ways”.
He further said, “by not acting on the latest instructions these officers have once again conveyed that they don’t want transparency and accountability in the utilization of funds and bringing much-needed improvement in the functioning of their respective departments”.
While admitting that majority of the Government departments have yet not started showing compliance of the latest instructions, a senior officer in the General Administration Department, while wishing anonymity, said, “time has come for fixing responsibility for treating the audit paragraphs as trash and initiating stern action against the erring officers”.
As per the data of Accountant General’s office, out of 682 audit paragraphs (Civil/Revenue: 605; PSUs: 77) featuring in the reports of CAG of India for the year 2000-01 to 2015-16, only 329 audit paragraphs (Civil/Revenue: 262; PSUs: 67) have been discussed by the committees as on September 2018.
Of these, the committees could make their recommendations in respect of 306 audit paragraphs (Civil/Revenue: 240; PSUs: 66). However, there are 244 suo-moto Action Taken Notes (Civil/Revenue: 234; PSUs: 10) and 228 ATNs (Civil/Revenue: 178; PSUs: 50) on the recommendations of the committees outstanding from the administrative departments as on September 2018.