PAC Flags Issues in Procurement of Facilities for Soldiers

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    In Context

    • Recently, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in its 55th report on “Provisioning, procurement and issue of High Altitude Clothing, Equipment, Ration and Housing”.

    More about the news

    • About:
      • The report is based on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) findings in 2019.
    • PAC observations:
      • Mismanagement:
        • The committee observed that a huge quantity of essential items under Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment (SCME) Category-II were procured or held when they were not issued or required for long. 
      • Shortfall: 
        • The committee observed that there was extensive shortfall in the receipt of stores from ordnance factories from 2015-16 to 2017-18 in the case of “SCME/Extreme Cold Climate Clothing and Equipment” items. 
      • Less supply:
        • The percentage supply of most items from the factories remained at 50% or less for consecutive years. 
      • Corporatisation:
        • The PAC noted that, in the meanwhile, the factories had been corporatised and restructured into government companies. 
    • Report Suggestions:
      • Implementing CICG:
        • The report suggests that all efforts should be made to fully implement Phase III of the Central Inventory Control Group (CICG) for effective inventory management and procurement.
      • Contracting process:
        • The PAC recommended an overhaul of the contracting process between the Defence Ministry and vendors. 
        • This would also aid in reduction of procurement timelines. 
      • Procurement processes:
        • The procurement processes could be expedited through hand-holding of new Defence Public Sector Undertakings (erstwhile ordnance factories) by the Ministry.
      • Collaborating with other countries:
        • The committee said the Ministry should collaborate with friendly countries with similar terrain/ geographical conditions and learn from their experiences for technical specifications. 
      • Periodic review:
        • Ministry should periodically review and get feedback from troops deployed in high altitude areas in terms of taste, quality and hygienic conditions of rations.
        • Ministry may fulfil assurance that there is no shortfall of High Altitude Clothing & Equipment in Indian Army and complete entitlement of soldiers is adequately met at all forward locations of their deployment.
      • Deployment of technical expertise:
        • Sufficient technical expertise is available in various Indian institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Technolgy, which could be deployed for projects in harsh terrains.

    About Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

    • About:
      • The PAC is the oldest parliamentary committee in Indian legislative affairs and has been crucial in upholding the principle of accountability as it exercises oversight of public expenditure.
    • Members: 
      • The Public Accounts Committee consists of 22 members elected according to the principle of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote: 
        • Fifteen members elected by Lok Sabha every year from amongst its members.
        • Seven members of Rajya Sabha elected by that House in like manner are associated with the Committee. 
      • Process of Election:
        • In April, each year, a motion is moved in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs or Chairperson of the Committee, if in office, calling upon members of the House to elect from amongst themselves 15 members to the Public Accounts Committee. 
      • Appointment of Chairperson:
        • The Chairperson of the Committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst the members of Lok Sabha elected to the Committee.
        • As a convention, starting from the Public Accounts Committee of 1967-68, a member of the Committee belonging to the main opposition party/group in the House is appointed as the Chairperson of the Committee
    • Role & Functions:
      • Check on the government especially with respect to its expenditure bill.
      • Examines the audit report of C&AG after it is laid in the Parliament.
      • PAC promotes the basic principle that parliament embodies the will of the people by exercising check over the executive.
      • Keeps a check on the money spent on any service during a financial year.
      • It examines the accounts of State corporations, Trading concerns and Manufacturing projects.
    • Assistance by CAG:
      • The Committee is assisted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in the examination of Accounts and Audit Reports.
      • CAG has been described as a friend, philosopher, and guide to the PAC.

    Source: TH