OAG told to produce plan to settle arrears by PACThe parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has directed the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to produce a concrete action plan for the settlement of arrears that has been plaguing state agencies and public enterprises.
The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has directed the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to produce a concrete action plan for the settlement of arrears that has been plaguing state agencies and public enterprises.
A House committee meeting on Wednesday also asked the OAG to instruct the concerned ministries, government agencies, secretariats and commissions to present their status of arrears and settlement plans.
The PAC moved after the OAG’s recently launched annual report revealed that the arrears of government offices had ballooned to Rs396.25 billion in fiscal 2015-16. Cumulative arrears rose 20 percent from the previous fiscal year’s Rs328.52 billion.
The House panel summoned Auditor General Tanka Mani Sharma and directed the OAG to make a plan to settle 80 percent of the arrears within six months.
“The amount of arrears has been increasing every year, reflecting the poor financial system of our country,” said PAC Chairman Dor Prasad Upadhyay. “The OAG must come up with effective plans to minimize arrears in the coming years while focusing on settling the existing arrears.”
Speaking at the meeting, committee members pointed to lack of accountability among bureaucrats as the major reason behind the soaring arrears, and asked the OAG to make government offices with high arrears accountable so that fiscal discipline is maintained.
“The OAG should immediately come up with plans to make officials working with government offices having huge arrears accountable,” said PAC member and former finance minister Bishnu Poudel.
According to the OAG’s annual report, five ministries had soaring arrears. The arrears of the Finance, Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Federal Affairs and Local Development, Education and Drinking Water and Sanitation ministries account for 80.48 per cent of the total arrears of government agencies.
Auditor General Sharma said his office was planning to minimize arrears through constant monitoring. He also urged the government to consider the history of potential candidates regarding fiscal discipline before appointing them to important positions.
“We have seen numerous instances where officials failing to maintain good fiscal practices have been awarded important appointments in state agencies,” said Sharma. “The government should immediately stop such practices.”
PAC member Bharat Shah suggested to the OAG to make a list of government officials failing to maintain fiscal discipline.
The House committee also asked the OAG to direct government offices to have their accounts audited within three months. According to the OAG’s annual report, as many as 2,925 units of financial transactions worth Rs5.30 billion at various government offices have been recorded as audit backlogs.