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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 22 September, 2022

  • 8 Min Read

Social Audit of Social Sector Scheme

Social Audit of Social Sector Scheme

The Rajasthan government has made the first-ever decision in the nation to create a specialized social and performance audit authority to undertake social audits of initiatives.

What does this decision mean, exactly?

Make public accountability a priority:

  • In addition to conducting performance evaluations of the implementing agencies, the authority will ensure public accountability, openness, and citizen participation in the execution of government plans, programs, and services.

Evaluate the Delivery of Quality Services:

  • The authority will also evaluate how well government plans and initiatives deliver quality services.
  • In order to evaluate the success of various initiatives, it will also conduct polls on customer satisfaction.

Plan Social Audit and Performance Audit:

  • The authority will organize, carry out, and complete the social audit and performance audit of the state of Rajasthan's government agencies, undertakings, programs, projects, and activities.
  • It will determine whether public funds have been used wisely and with efficiency in the delivery of services.
  • It will provide technical assistance for the efficient implementation of various schemes and programs, assist the finance and planning departments with strengthening their annual plans and outcome budgeting, and evaluate the standards of quality for infrastructure and development projects in both rural and urban areas.

About social audit:

  • A social audit is a review of a program conducted jointly by the government and the populace, with a focus on those who will be affected by or benefit from the program.
  • In contrast to financial audits, which include looking through and evaluating records of financial transactions within an organisation to give a fair picture of its gains, losses, and financial stability, social audits focus on social behaviour.

MGNREGA's Social Audit Program:

  • All works carried out in accordance with the program must go through a social audit, under Section 17 of the MGNREGA.
  • Each Social Audit Unit is eligible to receive money equal to 0.5% of the MNREGA expenses the State expended the previous year.
  • The audit comprises examining the MNREGA-created infrastructure for quality, looking for wage theft, and examining any potential procedural irregularities.
  • Only 14.29% of the planned audits were completed in 2021–2022, according to a study recently provided by the Union Rural Development

  • However, the administrative costs for these Social Audit Units are covered by the Center, and because of the excessive holdup in funding, many of these cash-strapped units are now all but paralyzed.

Challenges:

Insufficient administrative will

  • Social audits are not completely independent from the influence of implementing agencies in many areas of the country due to a lack of administrative and political commitment to institutionalize them as a means of preventing corruption.
  • Some states, including Kerala, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, had not received the administrative payments that the Center owed to their Social Audit Units. As a result, the payment of auditors' salaries has been put off by three to twelve months.
  • Social audit units, particularly local social audit facilitators, encounter resistance and intimidation when attempting to simply access primary records for verification.

Lack of Public Participation:

  • The low level of public participation is a result of the general public's lack of education, knowledge, and capacity building.
  • Absence of Independent Agency: No independent agency exists to look into and take action on social audit findings.

Way ahead

  • Citizens' organizations need to push for improved social audits and make significant strides in holding the political leadership and implementing organizations accountable.
  • Each district should develop a team of social audit experts who are in charge of instructing members of the social audit committee (stakeholders).
  • It is important to provide training programmes on social auditing techniques like gathering data, writing reports, and presenting findings to the Gram Sabha.
  • In order to develop an institutionalised framework that cannot be subverted by any vested interests, the system of social audits requires the coordinated support and encouragement of numerous authorities.

Source: The Hindu


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