Ministry of Panchayati Raj has decided to carry out an online audit of 20 per cent of the estimated 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) across the country
Panchayat funds will be audited online as for the first time the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has decided to carry out an online audit of 20 per cent of the estimated 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) across the country for the financial year 2019-20. This will be conducted using AuditOnline, an open-source application which facilitates the online and offline audit of accounts to improve the transparency and accountability of the utilisation of the funds.
According to the communication to states sent by the Ministry, the auditing of the 20 per cet GPs will be carried out on a pilot basis. This will be scaled up to 100 per cent Panchayats across India in the next financial year 2021-22. For this purpose, the accounts of the panchayat for the year 2019-20 have been completed and closed in e-Gram SWARAJ, (Simplified Work-based Accounting Application for Panchayati Raj), which was launched on the National Panchayati Raj Day. The Fifteenth Finance Commission had allocated Rs 60,750 crore for all three tiers of the Panchayats during 2020-21. This amount was almost the same as last year under the 14th Finance Commission. “Online audit will ease access to records which can be monitored at district, state and Centre level. Uploading photos of work done and geo-tagging projects will also allow for physical inspection,” Indian Express quoted officials as saying.
According to the officials, online audit with the option of physical verification holds greater importance during coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. The timely availability of records was a major issue in the offline system. “However, in the new process, the auditors will be able to see online all documents related to work approval and payments,” said an official. The implementation of PFMS-PRIASoft and AuditOnline applications in all the Central Finance Commissions Grantee States will bring in transparency in the transactions by the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and put in place an auditing mechanism for various activities of PRIs respectively.
AuditOnline is an open-source application developed as part of Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES) under e-panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP) initiated by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR). The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been making efforts to bring in transparency, efficiency and accountability in the functioning of Panchayats through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Last month, it recognised the efforts taken by the States and UTs and conferred e-Panchayat Puraskars.