TUR: Sent suggestion to the State Govt for amendment of the MCPPSSA Act, 2017

 

 

Shillong, November 10: “to review delivery of public services and implementation of government schemes and programmes through a participatory social audit by government and the stakeholders; by ensuring timely review and concurrent course-correction in the delivery of schemes and programmes, to achieve realization of desired development outcomes”

In the press statement TUR said that, this Act which is supposed to ensure ‘community participation’ was legislated without any ‘community participation’ or pre-legislative consultation. Six months after the Bill was passed, the government decided to hold a small ‘consultation’ with select group of CSOs in the presence of Chief Minister Dr. Mukul Sangma, Mr. K.N.Kumar, IAS, Mr. B. Dhar IAS – rtd).

TUR was one of the groups who were invited to this meeting where we presented our critique of the act and submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister about the deep structural problems with the Act and the need for amendments. TUR has suggested various amendments which need to be carried out before the Act can claim to ensure ‘transparency’ and accountability and efficient delivery of Public services.

TUR also pointed out that the Social Audit as envisaged in the act was not independent as the implementing agency (the government) was auditing itself, a clear case of conflict of interest.The State Social Audit Council which is supposed to oversee and plan for Social Audit is not an independent body, because all the members of the council are government nominees.

TUR reminded the Chief Minister that Meghalaya Lokayukta Act which was fought for by the people’s groups had a process of search and selection and selection committee consisting of CM, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of the High Court. The appointment of Mr. Toki Blah as the chairperson of Social Audit Council by the government without any announcement of vacancy, or criterion of appointment goes against the very principle of independence and transparency.

TUR’s made it major suggestions to the committee that the The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017  needs to be amended as soon as possible in a consultative process to ensure that the Act creates an independent body to ensure Transparency, Accountability & Participation. The rules for the implementation of the Act needs to be framed in a consultative and transparent manner.

The Principal Act needs to comply with the Auditing standards set by the Comptroller and  Auditor General of India standards about its independence and formats of audit.Traditional Institutions as well as sixth Schedule institutions need to be made a party to this Act in order to ensure its effectiveness and legitimacy.

At the Village level the Social Audit General Council needs to be all the adults residing in that village.As soon as possible either this act needs to be amended to include timelines, citizen charters, obligations of public authority, penalities for non compliance in delivery of Public Services. Better still the government should legislate the Right of Citizens for Grievance Redress and Service Guarantee in Meghalaya act.

State level Social Audit Council needs to be reconstituted with proper search and selection process which ensures independence of the Council. For a format of such a search & selection committee Lokayukta Act can be a model. Till such a process is instituted and legislated appointments to this have to be kept in abeyance.

Rules for the Act (as amended in light of public consultation) should be made after a proper field testing in of procedures, system, formats of audit.If any case of corruption is found under this Act, the case should be automatically sent as a FIR to the office of the Lokayukta to fix responsibilities and take action against the culprit.

TUR believes that for this act to have any value and legitimacy amongst the citizens, it cannot and should not be implemented in the present form. TUR is going to further suggest clause by clause amendments towards making this act functional and pro-people and for these official consultations have to be carried out soon so that amendment can be introduced in the winter session of the Legislative Assembly.

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