To achieve rapid growth by a poor country like Bangladesh, financial management is very important. It plays a significant role in the economic, efficient and effective use of public resources. But Bangladesh still needs to do more to ensure accountability in public accounts. There have not been any an enabling framework for a pro-development culture in our management practices. Wastage and misuse of resources, prompted by archaic administrative systems, remain as the potential threat to providing better opportunities to the people.
The watchdog apparatuses through which we are supposed to keep corruption at bay do not simply work. The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC), which should have been functional from the day the Jatiya Sangsad is inaugurated, remains almost non-functional. The office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), being part of the Finance Ministry, can hardly work independently.
The huge pending cases of audit objections is a potent pointer to how these watchdog bodies are gradually becoming infective. The CAG office submitted 770 audit reports to the President and Parliament from 1971-72 to 16 July 2002. Of the reports, only 141 were discussed by the PAC. These undiscussed audit observations involve US$3.8 billion.
The CAG, in partnership with Parliament, has an important role to play in the new accountability environment in terms of providing assurance and advising on change and its impacts across the public sector. In this regard, the ability of the CAG to investigate and report, freely and fearlessly, is crucial.
The debate over audit independence is not new. Audit bodies and the accounting profession worldwide have been actively engaged in clarifying and reinforcing independence for many years. In today?s environment, our role includes providing independent assurance on the overall performance, as well as the accountability, of the public sector in delivering the government?s programmes and services and implementing effectively a wide range of public sector reforms.
The changing public sector environment calls for a more pragmatic approach to accountability. While the accountability regime should not stifle innovation or other management activity, it is important that appropriate mechanisms are in place to ensure the ethical and accountable use of resources.
This study seeks to focus on how lack of monitoring of, and control over, the expenses by different ministries and government departments is causing huge financial irregularities to the national exchequer.
The study, ?Unaccountability in Public Accounts Leads to Widespread Corruption?, conducted by a three-member team of journalists, led by Saiful Islam Tushar. He was assisted by Rezwana Nur and Farhana Akhter. The copy was edited by Mahfuzur Rahman. I thank them all for their hard work. Thanks are also due to Norwegian Embassy in Dhaka for its support to publish the study.