CAG calls for system revamp to ensure proper response to audit observations in J&K

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Jammu, Mar 27 (PTI) Stating that its audit has pointed out several deficiencies in the implementation of various programmes and internal-control measures in selected departments in Jammu and Kashmir, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has asked the Union Territory administration to look into the matter and revamp the system to ensure a proper response to the audit observations in a time-bound manner.

In its report on the social, general, economic (non-public sector undertakings) sectors for the year ending March 31, 2019, the CAG said the pendency of a large number of paragraphs indicates a lack of adequate response from the government departments to the audit.

The report, recently submitted in Parliament, said in the last few years, the audit has pointed out several significant deficiencies in the implementation of various programmes or activities as well as on the quality of internal-control measures in certain departments, which have a negative impact on the success of the programmes and the functioning of the departments.

'The government may look into this matter and revamp the system to ensure a proper response to the audit observations from the departments in a time-bound manner,' it said.

During 2018-19, the CAG said a compliance audit of 727 drawing and disbursing officers and 74 units of 25 autonomous bodies was conducted by the office of the Principal Accountant General (Audit), Jammu and Kashmir.

'The focus was on auditing specific programmes/schemes in order to offer suitable recommendations to the executive for taking corrective action and improving service delivery to the citizens.

'Twenty-three paragraphs were sent to the Principal Secretaries/Secretaries of the respective departments. Replies in respect of nine paragraphs included in this report were not received (September 2020),' it said.

The report said the handbook of instructions for a speedy settlement of audit observations or inspection reports (IRs) issued by the government (finance department) provides for a prompt response by the executive to the IRs issued by the Principal Accountant General (Audit) to ensure remedial or rectification action in compliance with the prescribed rules and procedures.

The heads of offices and the next higher authorities are required to comply with the observations contained in the IRs, rectify the defects and report their compliance to the Principal Accountant General (Audit), it said, adding that based on the results of the test audit, 49,523 audit observations contained in 11,531 IRs were outstanding as on March 31, 2019.

'The pendency of a large number of paragraphs indicates a lack of adequate response of the government departments to the audit,' the CAG observed.

Further, only two Audit Committee meetings were held during 2018-19, in which 28 audit paragraphs were settled, which account for 0.06 per cent of the pending objections as of March 2019, the report said, urging the respective departments to constitute audit committees and monitor the progress of the settlement of paragraphs.

To ensure accountability of the executive to issues dealt with in various audit reports, the government (finance department) issued instructions in June 1997 to the administrative departments to furnish suo-motu action-taken notes (ATNs) to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) or the Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU) on all the audit paragraphs featuring in the audit reports, irrespective of whether those are taken up for discussion by these panels or not.

'These ATNs are to be submitted to these committees, duly vetted by the Principal Accountant General (Audit) within a period of three months from the date of presentation of audit reports in the state legislature. It was, however, noticed that out of the 495 audit paragraphs featuring in the civil chapters of the audit reports from 2000-01 to 2015-16, the suo-motu ATNs in respect of 146 audit paragraphs had not been received up to September 30, 2020,' it said.

The report said the ATNs, duly vetted by the Principal Accountant General (Audit) on the observations or recommendations made by the PAC or the COPU in respect of the audit paragraphs discussed by them are to be furnished to these committees within six months from the date of such observations or recommendations.

'Out of 495 audit paragraphs featuring in the civil chapters of audit reports for the years from 2000-01 to 2015-16, only 245 audit paragraphs have been discussed by the PAC up to March 31, 2020. Recommendations in respect of 223 audit paragraphs have been made by the PAC. However, ATNs on the recommendations of the committees are pending from the government of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in respect of 165 paragraphs,' it said. PTI TAS RC