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Event to mark 100 yrs of PAC begins today

🔴 “The Speaker’s office has invited the Prime Minister on behalf of all of us. The President is coming. We still hope the PM will accept our request, and come either for the inaugural function or the valedictory. But we don’t have any confirmation,” said Chowdhury.

WHILE PRIME Minister Narendra Modi has been invited for the two-day centennial celebrations of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over the weekend, he is yet to confirm whether he will attend, said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader in Lok Sabha who heads the PAC.

“The Speaker’s office has invited the Prime Minister on behalf of all of us. The President is coming. We still hope the PM will accept our request, and come either for the inaugural function or the valedictory. But we don’t have any confirmation,” said Chowdhury.

“But if he doesn’t, what can we do? Yes, we will all feel sad that a 100-year-old institution is marking its centenary and the PM is not there,” he said.

The event will be inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday in the presence of Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, Speaker Om Birla, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, and Chowdhury. The minute-to-minute programme of the two-day event does not mention the Prime Minister’s presence.

Some of the meetings of the PAC in the recent past had witnessed heated arguments between Chowdhury and BJP members. In July last year, they had sparred over Chowdhury’s proposal that the panel take up for discussion the impact of the pandemic on various sectors. In June, there were heated exchanges over Chowdhury’s proposal that the panel take up the vaccination programme for discussion.

Chowdhury also wanted to scrutinise donations to the PM Cares fund. When asked about the audit of the PM Cares fund, Chowdhury told reporters on Friday: “Our hands are tied as the PM Cares Fund does not come under the ambit of CAG.”

Chowdhury said delegates from 52 countries were invited. In view of the new Omicron threat, none of them will attend the centenary celebrations.

On Saturday, after the inauguration of the event, the Speaker will chair a meeting with presiding officers of state legislatures. There will be separate sessions thereafter on the functioning of the PAC and implementation of recommendations of the panel.

The first session, “Functioning of PAC in present times, challenges and the way forward: realigning PAC’s approach; collecting information from non-governmental sources, and, assessing outcomes of programmes/ schemes/ projects”, will be chaired by Chowdhury; the second, “Implementation of recommendations of PAC: adherence to timelines and mechanism for strict compliance”, will be chaired by Rajasthan PAC Chairman Gulab Chand Kataria. On the second day, there will be sessions on “PAC as a development partner: focusing on strengthening of systems and promoting good governance” and “Impact of PAC: ensuring citizens’ right to due process and value for tax-payers’ money.”

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