IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 9th Oct 2020
Fortune always favours the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself.– P. T. Barnum
EDITORIAL HUNT #179 :“Role of CAG in the Pandemic | UPSC“
Role of CAG in the Pandemic | UPSC
K.P. Shashidharan is a former Director General, Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
Keeping vigil even during unusual times
With corruption likely in pandemic management, the CAG’s audit can ensure checks and balances in the health sector
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : CAG
With the nation spending substantial resources to manage the pandemic. Discuss the role of CAG in India . -(GS 2)
- Role of CAG
- Corrupt Practises during Pandemic
- Statutory responsibilities of CAG
- CONTEXT : Karnataka State Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) directed the CAG to conduct a special audit into the purchase of COVID-19 equipment within 15 days.
- PROCEDURE : The CAG is to constitute a special team of its employees to get the audit of all purchases of COVID-19 equipment .
- FUNDS AND EXPENDITURE : The panel also asked the CAG to conduct an audit of expenditure incurred by the State government under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
OPPORTUNITY FOR GRAFT
- POLITICAL ALLEGATION : The funds (to the tune of ₹2,000 crore) were siphoned off to purchase inferior quality of personal protective equipment kits, sanitisers, ventilators, masks and other equipments.
- CORRUPT PRACTISES : The opportunity to indulge in corruption exists in disaster management.
- EMERGENCY PROCUREMENT : In emergency to save lives and reduce sufferings ; there are a chances to obfuscate rules and procedures.
- COMPREHENSIVE AUDIT MECHANISM : If all the major purchases by government entities at all levels are audited by the CAG, there can be substantial improvement in disaster management.
- PURE GOVERNANCE : It will usher in better transparency, integrity, honesty, effective service delivery and compliance with rules and procedures and governance.
A CONSTIONAL MANDATETITU
- STATUTORY MANDATE : The CAG has the inescapable constitutional and statutory mandate and responsibility to ensure public accountability, transparency, effective service delivery and good governance.
- REGULAR PROCEDURE : The management of a pandemic is not an exception to this; though in the expediency of saving lives and alleviating suffering.
- EXCEPTIONS : There can be reasonable exceptions to compliance with established rules and standard operating procedures in procurement.
- PRIORITY : People’s health is a priority audit theme and so is big-ticket public expenditure.
- PERFORMANCE AUDITS : It is necessary that the CAG undertakes performance audits of COVID-19 related procurements, the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and Employee State Insurance (ESI) hospitals.
- AUDIT OBJECTIVES : This may include the procurement of equipment and drugs for CGHS wellness centres and polyclinics, laboratories and hospitals.
- QUALITY CHECK : A beneficiary survey will become part of the audit process to bring out efficacy of service delivery and the availability and quality of drugs.
- ASSURANCE ON HEALTH SERVICES : Auditing ESI hospitals and dispensaries is expected to provide the assured health-care services including infection control and hygiene.
- WELL ESTABLISHED PROCUREMENT METHODS: The government entities must have established and effective controls over expenses to purchase equipment.
- AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS : It can contribute to improvements in various aspects of disaster preparedness, management and mitigation.
- RULE BOOK : All governments and government agencies must have established effective controls over disaster preparedness and management and related expenses (with proper documentation).
- PERFORMANCE AUDITS : The CAG’s performance audits are driven by economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
- TRACKS EXPENSES : The audit will focus on expense tracking and achievement of outputs and outcome, in qualitative and quantitative terms.
- VALUABLE INPUTS : The entire process of procurement of COVID-19-related equipment and drugs, proper documentation, and compliance with rules and regulations can be streamlined with data analysis.
BENEFITS OF AN INSPECTION
- RED FLAGS : There are usually red flags in disaster management, emergency procurement and related expenditures.
- OVERLOOKED INCONSISTENCIES : COVID-19 may provide an opportunity for scamsters to siphon off public money where normal and prudential financial regulations cannot be fully enforced.
STATUTORY RESPONSIBILITIES OF CAG
The statutory responsibility of CAG as an independent, objective, and non-partisan constitutional authority are:
- ASSESSMENT : It includes appraising disaster preparedness .
- MANAGEMENT : To ensuring that management and mitigation operations .
- PROCEDURAL FLAWS : Check for procedures are complied with, and proper internal controls are in place.
- DOCUMENTATION : Ensuring that there are proper records, documentation, authentic, accurate, reliable and complete information and data.
- RISK ASSESSMENT : Providing assurance that risks are assessed, identified and minimised with established disaster management process and procedures.
- JUDICIOUS USE OF RESOURCES : offering assurance that resources are being used economically efficiently and effectively for achieving the planned objectives and that benefits have gone to the targeted beneficiaries.
- CERTIFYING COMPLIANCES : The internal audit must also ensure compliance with applicable rules and procedures even in disaster-related disbursements.
- CONCLUSION OF AUDIT : A conclusions based audit specifies objectives , scope , long and short term gains and losses.
- PURE DEMOCRACY : All public entities management must be accountable and ensure that resources are managed properly and used in compliance with laws and regulations.
For a positive growth of India it is important that programmes are achieving their objectives; and services are being provided efficiently, effectively, and economically.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Role of CAG in the Pandemic | UPSC