President Ram Nath Kovind today said Parliamentary Committees, especially the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) ensure administrative accountability of the Executive towards the Legislature, and without them, parliamentary democracy would be incomplete.
Inaugurating the two-day Centennial Year Celebration of the PAC, he said it is through the PAC that citizens keep a check on government finances. In a democracy, he said, Parliament is the embodiment of the people’s will and parliamentary committees work as its extension.
Emphasising that accountability is central to governance in parliamentary democracy, the President said that since it is Parliament that grants permission to the Executive to raise and spend funds, it has the duty to assess if funds were raised and spent accordingly or not.
Kovind said the PAC had examined public expenditure not only from a legal and formal point of view to find out technical irregularities, if any, but also from the point of view of the economy, prudence, wisdom, and propriety.
Expressing hope, the President said that the Centennial Celebration of the Public Accounts Committee would provide an ideal platform for discussion of ways to make the Executive more accountable and thus to improve people’s welfare.
Vice-President and Chairman, Rajya Sabha M Venkaiah Naidu, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla; and PAC Chairman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury addressed a distinguished gathering on the occasion
The Vice President said that the PAC along with the Estimates Committee and the Public Undertakings Committee constitute the triad of ‘permanent vigilance’ over governmental activities and the attendant expenditure.
In developing economies where management of public finances has been a major issue of concern, the PAC has to check wasteful expenditure by seeking to ensure accountability, transparency, and good governance.
He said that the PAC reports and constant monitoring by the Committee through Action Taken Reports result in continuous improvement in the system of governance and policy. By doing so, the Committee has enhanced the respect of the people for the ‘oversight’ function of the Parliament, the Vice-President said.
Lok Sabha Speaker Birla said that India’s biggest achievement despite several problems was that in the past seven decades, “we have emerged as the largest and most effective democracy in the world.”
He said the main responsibility of democratic institutions is to make the government accountable, accountable and transparent to the people.
Parliamentary committees have contributed significantly in making this possible through their functions. In its journey of hundred years, the PAC has made a significant contribution in maintaining the supremacy of the Legislature and Parliament, Birla said.
Non-partisan functioning of Parliamentary Committees and the tradition of generally accepting the recommendations of the committee by the government shows the maturity of the Indian parliamentary system, said Birla.
PAC Chairman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the Committee works on non-party lines with a spirit of dedication and service to the country. This has enabled the Committee to function as a united team and adhere to the healthy convention of submitting unanimous reports which truly reflect the non-partisan spirit of the Committee.
Chowdhury said that during the hundred years of its existence, the Committee has broken new grounds in many fields, and extended the scope of its examination. Over the decades, the examination of accounts by the PAC accomplished the aim of enforcing public accountability in the transactions of Government business.
On this occasion, the President released the Centennial Souvenir of the PAC and inaugurated an exhibition showcasing its century-long journey.