Whither Meghalaya’s Social Audit Council

The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act passed in April 2017 made this the first state to pass such an Act. The prime objective of the Act was to review delivery of public services and implementation of government schemes and programmes through a participatory social audit by government and stakeholders – meaning the public. This would have ensured timely review and concurrent course-correction in implementation of government schemes and programmes. The idea is to achieve the desired development outcomes.”
The Council was to facilitate ‘Concurrent Audit’ of development programmes and public services. It would monitor the effectiveness and efficiency in implementation of development programmes and public services in a time-bound manner and initiate course-correction measures wherever necessary. This would in turn encourage transparency in the delivery mechanisms and institutions engaged in public service delivery. The Council would educate citizens on social audit processes and make them aware of their rights and entitlements so as to build their confidence and secure their participation. The purpose is to enhance citizen’s ownership of the development initiatives taken up by the Government in the true spirit of Participatory Democracy.
The Social Audit Council would have been the most appropriate platform for airing of public grievances and to ensure a time-bound redress of the same. It would have facilitated public participation in governance which is the essence of democracy. How else can people become stakeholders in governance without a people-friendly platform where they can connect with the Government? The State Social Audit Council was to be chaired by an eminent person with experience in the development sector. There would be representatives of the government departments not below the rank of Commissioner & Secretary as may be determined by the State Government. The Council would have not more than ten non-official members representing Village Institutions, organizations of workers and disadvantaged groups. The State Social Audit Council would involve trained civil society organizations to audit different government programmes. It would advise the State Government on all matters concerning the implementation of this Act and recommend improvements required. In short this would have been a perfect system for checks and balances in governance and would have detected corruption at all levels. Sadly, this Council never took off. The non-official members were never announced and resources were not allocated. It was as good as dead the moment it was born. The MDA Government is silent on the abortion of the Social Audit Council and the present Opposition members during whose time the Act was passed are also silent. This shows that no government wants transparency or to be stale-mated when it turns rogue. On Meghalaya’s 50th year will the public demand the resurrection of the Social Audit Council?

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