Centre, MP govt disagree over auditing rural jobs scheme

The centre and the Madhya Pradesh government have found themselves embroiled in a jurisdiction tangle over the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act [MGNREGA]. The Madhya Pradesh government has sought the services of chartered accountants to audit the scheme in its villages.

The state government has asked that auditors should examine the scheme in order to detect cases of fraud and corruption. The Madhya Pradesh government has further asked that the operations and governance related to MGNREGA should also be looked into the by chartered accountants. It has asked that the scheme should be audited for the financial years 2011-12 and for 2012-13.

This decision by the state government, however, is in contradiction to MGNREGA Act. According to the act, 'The Central government may, in consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, prescribe appropriate arrangements for audits of the accounts of the Schemes at all levels.' The rural development ministry in fact has hired the services of deputy Comptroller and Auditor General [CAG], as a consultant to audit MGNREGA.

Officials at the Ministry of Rural development say that, as of now, the ministry has not asked for any explanation from the state government on why it had ordered the internal audit, however sources say that the ministry may seek explanation from it soon.

While the state government has encroached upon the rights of the central government, the Ministry of Rural Development is mulling on having a unified accounting system for MGNREGA. The accounting of the scheme varies from state to state, as each state has its own procedure to maintain expenditure documentation and other things related to accounting of the scheme.

This step of coming up with a unified accounting system may again contradict the MGNREG Act, which states, 'The accounts of the Scheme shall be maintained in such form and in such manner
as may be prescribed by the State Government.'
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