Centre pats Telangana for auditing Gram Panchayats
Telangana's financial audit exercise of Accounts of Gram Panchayats, for proper maintenance of records by the local bodies to improve transparency and accountability and also to get 15th Finance Commission grants without any hassles, has drawn the appreciation of the Union government.
Hyderabad: Telangana's financial audit exercise of Accounts of Gram Panchayats, for proper maintenance of records by the local bodies to improve transparency and accountability and also to get 15th Finance Commission grants without any hassles, has drawn the appreciation of the Union government.
Telangana has so far raised 26,700-odd objections and observations in 3,450 GPs of the targeted 3,830 Panchayats, which is 30 per cent of total GPs in the state (12,769). Compare this with Andhra Pradesh where only 3,941 observations have been recorded until September 17. Other states are yet to seriously focus on the task given by the Centre while Telangana went far ahead with no other state anywhere near to it.
States were told to ensure a mandatory online audit of a minimum of 20 per cent GPs through Audit Online (a web-based application) during the present financial year (2020-21) and from 2021-22 this needs to be scaled up to cover 100 Panchayats across all tiers in the 28 states for the Central Finance Commission Grants. This application not only facilitates the auditing of accounts but also ensures maintaining audit records that have been carried out.
According to Telangana State Audit Department Director M Venkateshwar Rao, the Audit Online process is being done in 20 per cent of the total 2,53,125 Gram Panchayats in the country this financial year.
Telangana, however, has set a target of auditing online in 30 per cent of total GPs. More than 330 auditors of the department have been on this exercise from August onwards.
It may be mentioned here that GPs have different funds, including General Fund which is the revenue from property tax, water bills and other services, funds from the state government, and grants from Finance Commission (14th till now...15th from next year onwards).
With a large amount of funds being devolved to the Panchayats under the Central Finance Commission, State Finance Commissions, Centrally-Sponsored Schemes, and State schemes, etc it becomes imperative to put in place an Audit Mechanism in order to carry out an audit of the account-books.
The 15th Finance Commission, in its interim report for 2020-21, has expressed concerns over the unavailability of audited accounts at the local body level. Time and again, several Finance Commissions have emphasized the need of audited accounts.
For this purpose, it is necessary to ensure the accounts are available online and have a sound audit system. The Audit Online aims to facilitate the financial audit of accounts of GPs in all states.
Finance Minister T Harish congratulated the finance/ audit department for standing first in the country and becoming a role model for other states. This exercise would go a long way in bringing more accountability in Local Bodies, he felt.