[Answered] Discuss the role of Public Accounts Committee in establishing accountability of the government to the people.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. How Public Accounts Committee help in establishing accountability of the government to the people? Some issues and challenges.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Public Accounts Committee is considered the most important financial Committee of Parliament in the financial accountability process. It comprises of 22 members of parliament. India being a parliamentary democracy establishes accountability of the government to the people through parliamentary supervision and control. Public Accounts Committee (PAC) aids the parliament in financial scrutiny of the government.

How Public Accounts Committee help in establishing accountability of the government to the people?

  1. Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a financial committee constituted every year to examine the annual audit reports of submitted by the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) and reports its finding to the parliament.
  2. PAC acts as the watchdog of the public purse by examining the audit report on appropriation account and finance account.
  3. It scrutinise the appropriation account to verify:
    • If the funds were legally available.
    • If a competent authority sanctioned it’s use.
    • If the rules laid by procedure were followed. 
  4. PAC’s function has been sometimes criticised since it does not look into the policy aspect  and is only recommending. Yet, PAC has been in establishing financial accountability of the government to the people.
  5. It further establishes the accountability of the government by examining the budgetary appropriations and accounts of the government and Reports of Comptroller and Auditor General (under article 151) on the execution of the projects and programmes by the various ministries.
  6. Examining the demand for excess grants before they are presented to the Parliament for regularisation.
  7. The committee examines public expenditure not only from legal and formal point of view to discover technical irregularities but also from the point of view of economy, prudence, wisdom and propriety to bring out the cases of waste, loss, corruption, extravagance, inefficiency and nugatory expenses.

Some issues and challenges:

PAC in India is not able to enforce the accountability of the government to the people in true sense because:

  1. Even if it brings out the irregularities in the public expenditure there are no mechanisms to enforce the corrective measures.
  2. It examines the expenditure which has already been done by the government.
  3. Its recommendations are only advisory in nature and are not binding on the ministry of the day.
  4. PAC has got no mandate to examine the policy in broader sense.

However PAC at times, through its criticism of the inefficient public expenditure of the government, creates a strong public opinion against the government. The incumbent government to remain in power tries to rectify the inefficiency in its public expenditure and policy making. Thus the committee helps in enforcing accountability of the executive to the people.

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