Power, Privleges, Conduct of Businesss (DAMP)
- Discuss the role of parliamentary committees in upholding financial accountability of the executive.
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A Parliamentary committee is a designated group of members appointed by one or both Houses of Parliament to fulfill specific responsibilities. In a democratic governance framework, accountability is paramount. Parliamentary Committees, serving as potent instruments, play a vital role in overseeing executive actions on behalf of Parliament. They enforce the Executive’s responsibility to both Parliament and the public, with financial accountability being a key aspect. This is achieved through several committees, including:
- Public Accounts Committee:
- Examines the annual audit reports presented by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to Parliament.
- Scrutinizes public expenditure not only for legal and formal compliance but also evaluates it from the perspectives of economy, prudence, wisdom, and propriety to identify instances of waste, loss, corruption, extravagance, inefficiency, and nugatory expenses.
- Estimates Committee:
- Reviews the estimates included in the budget and recommends ‘economies’ in public expenditure, earning its description as a ‘continuous economy committee.’
- Reports on potential economies, suggests improvements in organization, efficiency, and administrative reforms consistent with the policy underlying the estimates.
- Recommends alternative policies to enhance efficiency and economy in administration.
- Examines whether the allocated funds align with the policy implied in the estimates.
- Advises on the presentation format of the estimates to Parliament.
- Committee on Public Undertakings:
- Examines the reports and accounts of public undertakings.
- Reviews reports from the Comptroller and Auditor General on public undertakings.
- Assesses the management of public undertakings, considering autonomy, efficiency, adherence to sound business principles, and prudent commercial practices.
- Exercises functions assigned by the Speaker in relation to public undertakings, similar to those of the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee.
Additionally, Adhoc Committees appointed by either House, like the Committee on MPLADs scheme or the Committee to examine the allocation of Telecom licenses, contribute by assessing financial performance against public expenditure. These committees investigate and provide advice to the executive on financial matters.
Parliamentary Committees, embodying the will of the people, provide the time and expertise necessary for a comprehensive evaluation of the executive’s financial powers. They ensure that public policy aligns with socio-economic progress, efficient administration, and the aspirations of the people. By doing so, these committees act as checks against the misuse of public resources, reinforcing financial accountability in a Parliamentary form of governance.