Mismanaged money

Mismanaged money

This is the worst of times; or the best of times—for the government to take a hard look at better managing the public money it has at its disposal. And Thursday’s strictures by comptroller and auditor general (CAG) Vinod Rai are very pertinent while taking that hard look.

At the latest biannual meet to assess the challenges that CAG faces in its role of ensuring public accountability, Rai indicated just how bad the situation is.

CAG reports, which regularly provide stark details of lapses in public accounts, are tabled in Parliament and require action-taken responses by the ministries concerned.

Rai pointed to “huge pendency" in submission of even basic, first-level replies for audits from 1994 right till 2008. This only affirms lack of genuine accountability in government.

At the same venue, there was talk about making NGOs using public funds accountable to Parliament. Which is fine. The irony here is that civil society attempting social audit of state spending faces hostile governments.

More than CAG, it’s the institution of Parliament that’s facing a big challenge.