Need to keep harnessing e-governance capability: President

New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the country must continue to harness its e-governance capability for improving the lives of the poor and to make society more equitable and financially inclusive.

The government gives priority to the Direct Benefit Transfer mode to reach out to the financially disadvantaged and excluded segment of the population, he said while speaking at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Indian Civil Accounts Service here.

“The direct transfer of funds to beneficiary bank accounts ensures transparency, eliminates delays and brings about a perceptible drop in corruption levels. I am confident that the government will on-board more welfare schemes on the PFMS (Public Financial Management System) in future,” the president said.

He said the Indian history records the importance given by kingdoms and enlightened rulers towards better management, custody and control of public finances, and reporting of expenditures and revenues.

“India’s tryst with accounting, in fact, dates back to the ancient past. Kautilya’s Arthashastra discusses accounting, budgeting and general principles of financial management that the state must endeavour to achieve to promote good governance,” he said.

“The founding fathers of our constitution placed significant importance on accounts and audit of the union government and states. Several constitutional provisions prescribe for the financial accountability of the executive to parliament, and the financial management of the affairs of the union and the states,” Mukherjee said.

He said that timely and credible financial reporting of public finances is the foremost challenge for the civil accounts service in today’s world where size, scale and complexity of the economy is increasing with every passing day.

“These fast-paced developments pose policy and administrative challenges on many fronts, including on the capability and the capacity of our financial management and accounting systems to respond to the myriad needs of various stakeholders in the economy.”

“In that context, the foremost challenge for your organisation is timely and credible financial reporting of public finances, which is the backbone of an efficient and sound financial management system,” he said.

The President praised the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Controller General of Accounts for ensuring faster submission of the annual financial statements, along with the audit report of the union government for 2014-15, to parliament within the same calendar year.

“The internal audit function today remains largely confined to compliance audit. This needs to change. The focus has to change from compliance to risk management, mitigation and control,” he said.

“Internal audit has to aid management in the effective implementation of programmes and help reduce cost and time overruns,” he added.

The president said he was confident that the civil accounts service will continue to provide India with robust and state-of-the-art public financial management systems.

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