In a major step to ensure transparency and accountability in Rural Development department, Punjab government on Tuesday said that it will conduct third party audit of all 13047 panchayats of the state to monitor their expenditure in various development programs in villages.
Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today gave approval for finalizing Third Party External Audit on audit of money spent by 13047 Panchayats on the various development works of villages. With the implementation of this program, Punjab will become first state in the country to conduct the third party financial and performance audit of village works.
Badal said that Punjab government has already finalized a plan to revamp the civic infrastructure of all the villages in three phases for which over Rs 24000 crores of funds have been set aside.
“The main focus was that money set aside for development works in the villages should be fruitfully and properly utilized for allocated projects. Further, this will prove a major step towards transparency and accountability in the Rural Development department,” Badal said adding that the state government has been decided to divide Punjab into five zones and villages located in those zones, may be independently handed over to International Audit companies.
He said that the Local Funds Audit Department was asked to finalise the RFP to shortlist the companies. “For the first time besides Financial Audit of the funds of the Panchayats, there will be performance audit of works executed by panchayats every six months. The Audit company will also engage civil engineers to verify the quality of the work executed by the Panchayats,” he said.
The Deputy CM said that he does not want panchayats to spend money on audit from their own accounts and it was imperative for finance department to bear the cost of third party audit.
Badal asked Local Bodies department to initiate the same exercise of third party audit for all local bodies and Municipal Corporations of the state.
“It was imperative for local bodies to go for third party audit as Punjab Government is planning to spend more than Rs 40000 crore on the revamp of civic infrastructure of 147 towns of the state,” Badal added while asking the Secretary Local Bodies to include the third party audit in the financial package of Local Bodies Department.