Working of Public Accounts Committees should be flexible to match expectations of people: Om Birla

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New Delhi, Dec 5: The centennial year celebration of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament which was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind in the Central Hall of Parliament House concluded on Sunday.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh and PAC Chairperson Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury attended the valedictory session.
Union Ministers, Members of Parliament, presiding officers of state legislative bodies, chairpersons of Public Accounts Committees of States and several other dignitaries attended the valedictory session.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in his valedictory address said, “Over the period of time, the relevance of the Public Accounts Committee has increased and people’s hopes and expectations have also increased from the Committee. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the PAC to evolve itself and to be flexible in their processes and procedures.”
Birla further said, “As part of our endeavour to ensure that the Committee works for the benefit and welfare of the last person standing in the row, it should make the executive accountable for the development of the country and ensure transparency in the working of the government.”
The Lok Sabha Speaker suggested that a common digital platform of the Public Accounts Committees of the Parliament of India and State Legislatures should be created where such Committees can share their best practices and monitor the execution of their recommendations.
Birla further suggested that parliamentary committees should directly interact with people and take inputs from them. “The more they will interact with people, the more effective and meaningful their recommendations will be”, said Birla.
Emphasizing on further strengthening PACs and better coordination among the PAC of the Parliament of India and State Legislatures, Birla suggested, “There should be a Committee of Chairpersons of PAC and that committee should have a comprehensive discussion on the working of the PACs and brainstorm on the manner in which the working of such committees can be more effective. The report or suggestions made by this committee can be discussed among the Presiding Officers for implementation of the suggested reforms which will make PACs more accountable, transparent and beneficial to the public.”
Highlighting the wider ambit and scope of the Public Accounts Committees in contemporary times, Birla called for more and more use of information technology tools for ensuring transparency in governance.
Hailing the tradition of non-partisan functioning of PACs, Birla said. “It should be our collective endeavour to not only maintain this tradition but to further strengthen it. The interest of the nation should be supreme.
Emphasizing the need for capacity building of Public Accounts Committees, Lok Sabha Speaker said that improving the capacity of the Public Accounts Committees will strengthen them as instruments of accountability.
Speaking about the role of parliamentary committees in the direction of inclusive governance, Birla suggested that they should explore the possibilities of development in unexplored areas and fields. This will help Governments to work out an action plan for development.
On this occasion, Birla also released the Centennial Monograph on ‘Conferences of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India (1921-2021)’.
Tracing the history and role of Public Accounts Committees since 1921, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Harivansh Narayan Singh, emphasised that the latest technology should be used for disposal of audit paras in a time-bound manner.
He highlighted the role of these Committees in the process of review of redundant laws so that the legal architecture could conform to the changing needs of our times.
He further observed that delay in law-making hampers the socio-economic growth of the country which puts additional responsibility on parliamentary committees, particularly Public Accounts Committees, to examine laws pertaining to their mandate on a continuous basis. Calling upon these committees to attend to their duties impartially, he stressed the need to provide better infrastructure and resources to enable them to ensure executive accountability in an effective manner.
PAC Chairperson Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “Executive accountability to the Legislature is one of the cornerstones on which the edifice of parliamentary democracy is erected. Therefore, parliamentary control over public expenditure is not limited only to the voting of money required for carrying on the administration of the country, but it also ensures that the expenditure is incurred in a prudent manner and that the objectives underlying the policies approved by the Parliament are achieved.”
Expressing satisfaction on the deliberations of the Committee, Chowdhury hoped that the Public Accounts Committee will now work with more intent and sincerity in the coming years in delivering democracy and setting high benchmarks for democratic Legislatures. (Agencies)