The question “Explain the structure of the Parliamentary Committee system. How far have the financial committees helped in the institutionalisation of the Indian Parliament? was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 2. Let us look at the model answer to this question.
Answer: Parliamentary Committees have their origins in the British Parliament. These are panels of MPs who are grouped together to study and report on specific issues related to legislation, administration, or policy. They are sometimes referred to as “mini parliament”. It consists of various committees that scrutinise and analyse different aspects of government functioning.
Structure of the Parliamentary Committee system:
Role of Financial Committees in the Institutionalisation of the Indian Parliament:
- Examine the Government’s Accounts: Examination of government expenditures fosters a culture of transparency and prudent financial management within the parliamentary system.
- For example, the role of PAC concerning financial propriety and utilisation of funds.
- The role of the Estimates Committee in suggesting 'economies' in public spending.
- The role of CoPU in overviewing the accounts of PSUs.
- Holds Government accountable: By questioning the Government - ministers and officials on their policies, actions, and decisions.
- For example, The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has the responsibility of examining the audit reports of the CAG, has the power to call officials to testify.
- Inquiry and investigationinto Government policies: Scrutinise various aspects of government policies, programs and schemes.
- For example, A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Veerappa Moily, was formed in 2016 on the government's demonetisation move.
- Thorough Examination: Strengthening the effectiveness of parliamentary oversight, even for less politically significant topics.
- For example, the PAC, in a 2015 report, highlighted several concerns plaguing the defence shipyards segment, whereas no questions were asked in the Lok Sabha upon the same.
Concerns with the performance of financial Parliamentary committees:
- Post-Expenditure Assessment: This limits the ability to address potential issues or inefficiencies proactively.
- Advisory Nature of Recommendations: They are not legally binding on the government, potentially reducing their impact on policy decisions.
So, they provide a framework for effective scrutiny of government finances, enhance accountability, and contribute to prudent financial management. Their recommendations serve as valuable inputs for policy formulation and implementation.