CAG audit- Improvement in disaster management

Syllabus – GS 2- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Context- The Public Account Committee (PAC) directed the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to conduct a special audit into purchase of COVID-19 equipment.

What are the directions given by PAC?

Former Congress Minister and PAC chairman H.K. Patil has chaired a meeting of the panel and instructed the CAG to constitute a special team of its employees to get the audit.

  1. The State Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) directed the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to conduct a special audit into the purchase of COVID-19 equipment within 15 days.
  2. The panel has also asked the CAG to conduct audit of expenditure incurred by the State government under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). The government had used the SDRF amount for purchase of equipment in various districts of the State.

Why there is need to conduct a special audit?

Political allegation- The congress has alleged a scam to the tune of ₹2000 crore were siphoned off to purchase inferior quality of personal protective equipment kits, sanitizers, ventilator , masks and other equipment at prices higher than those prevailing in the market.

Efficiency – A beneficiary survey will become part of the audit process to bring out efficacy of service delivery and the availability and quality of drugs.

However, emergency procurement to save lives and reduce sufferings are a chance to confuse rules and procedures in procurement.

What is the objective of CAG auditing?

  1. Improvement in disaster management-
  • Audit recommendations can contribute improvement in various aspects of disaster preparedness, management and mitigation.
  • It will usher in better transparency, integrity, honesty, effective service delivery and compliance with rules and procedure and governance.
  • The audit will focus on expense tracking and achievement of outputs and outcome, in qualitative and quantitative terms.
  • The audit objectives may include the procurement of equipment and drugs for CGHS wellness centers and polyclinic, laboratories and hospitals.
  1. Public assurance– The audit will provide assurance to people’s representatives, tax payers and public at large that government resources are being used prudentially, economically efficiently and effectively as per law and regulation.

Way forward-

With corruption likely in pandemic management, the CAG’s audit can ensure checks and balance in the health sector. There is a substantial need of improvement in disaster management and preparedness. The internal audit must also ensure compliance with applicable procedures even in disaster related disbursements and procurement process and provide valuable inputs to the external audit conducted by the CAG.

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