The question seems to be straight and forward and desires us to show benefits of social audit. Introduction should comprise the rationale of institutionalizing social audit.
Further, in the main body we need to link the institutionalized social audit with its possible benefits, focus on the role of community participation and compare it with traditional approach to audit.
Next, mention drawbacks focusing on socio-institutional issues and finally provide suggestions addressing these loopholes as a conclusion.
- Social Audit refers to the social control over withdrawal and usage of funds drawn from the state exchequer for programs and policies aimed at the benefit of It allows people to enforce transparency and accountability, thereby providing the ultimate users an opportunity to scrutinize the development initiatives.
Benefits of Social Audit:
- Social Audit facilitates transformation of citizens from a passive recipient to a demanding client, thus making the Government answerable.
- They help raise awareness about entitlements.
- These Audits allow beneficiaries of different schemes to lodge complaints regarding malpractices.
- Involvement of people in developmental activities ensures that money is spent where it is actually needed.
- Unlike the traditional forms of audit, social audit is a continuous process and is more transparent.
- Helps in Reduction of wastages & corruption.
- Promotes integrity and a sense of community among people & improves the standard of governance.
The loopholes in the implementation of Social Audits can be best understood through the example of MGNREGA:
- Very few states have actually instituted social auditing mechanism despite mandatory provisions in acts like MGNREGA.
- The involvement of local representatives in malpractices has sometimes resulted in resistance to social audits.
- The audits are yet to result in effective redressal. While a modest decline in administrative complaints related to the non-provision of work was observed, there was an increase in complaints of missing records on material expenditures.
- The impact of audits on other programme outcomes — employment generation, targeting of the SC/ST population — is often absent.
- The follow-up and enforcement of punishments are weak. Also, there is absence of establishment of vigilance cells in most of the cases.
- Relative lack of expertise among local bodies and social dynamics sometimes make it naming and shaming exercise.
- Ensure institutionalization of social audits across all states making it enforceable and credible “contract” allocating responsibilities, defining timelines and ensuring prompt penalty to the guilty.
- Capacity building to facilitate beneficiary-led-audits keeping in mind local circumstances and empowering local participation.
- Adequate institutional support and adequate budgetary provisions to ensure the viability of Social Audits.
Learning lessons and adopting measures to address all programme outcomes i.e. ensure impact of social audits in future course correction.