From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CAG's role
Mains level : Paper 2- Role of CAG in the pandemic
The article highlights the importance of CAG in times of disasters to ensure check and balances.
- With the nation spending substantial resources to manage the pandemic, the role of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has come into prominence.
Opportunity for corruption in pandemic
- Allegations of siphoning off of funds to purchase the inferior quality at prices higher than those prevailing in the market are made.
- The opportunity to indulge in corruption exists in disaster management.
- Emergency procurement to save lives and reduce sufferings are a chance to obfuscate rules and procedures and can happen in all three tiers of governance.
Role of the CAG
- If all the major purchases by governments are audited by the CAG, there can be substantial improvement in disaster management.
- It will usher in better transparency, integrity, honesty, effective service delivery and compliance with rules and procedures and governance.
- The CAG has issued an order creating a new vertical — health, welfare and rural development, restructuring the office of the Director General of Audit, Central Expenditure.
- It is necessary that the CAG undertakes performance audits of COVID-19 related procurements, the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and Employee State Insurance (ESI) hospitals.
- A beneficiary survey will become part of the audit process to bring out efficacy of service delivery and the availability and quality of drugs.
- Audit recommendations can contribute improvements in various aspects of disaster preparedness, management and mitigation.
Benefits of audit
- The statutory responsibility of CAG includes appraising disaster preparedness, ensuring that management, mitigation operations, procedures are complied with, and proper internal controls are in place.
- Ensuring that there are proper records, documentation, authentic, accurate, reliable and complete information and data.
- Providing assurance to people’s representatives, tax payers and the public at large that government resources are being used prudentially as per the law and regulations and safeguarded.
- Providing assurance that risks are assessed, identified and minimised with established disaster management process and procedures.
- Offering assurance that resources are being used economically efficiently and effectively for achieving the planned objectives and that benefits have gone to the targeted beneficiaries.
All public entities management must be accountable and ensure that resources are managed properly and used in compliance with laws and regulations; programmes are achieving their objectives; and services are being provided efficiently, effectively, and economically.