Government Development Agencies and Civil Societies discusses social Audit in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Dec 11: Members of the civil society as well as the government administration came together for a dialogue on the need for more awareness on the importance of Social Audit as a tool to improve public service delivery and to bridge the gap between the Citizen and the State.

This took place at a confluence of ideas and suggestions today during a consultative meeting organized by MSSAT (an independent social audit unit set up by the State) for reviewing the implementation of Social Audits and discussion on reforms for strengthening its rollout in Meghalaya.

The session was held at the Conference Hall, Hotel Polo Towers, Shillong on December 11.

Justice Madan Lokur, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India was the Chief Guest of the session.

Addressing the members, Justice Madan Lokur congratulated Meghalaya on being a trailblazer by becoming the first State in India to pass a social audit legislation in April 2017.

He added, “Social Audit should not be seen as a means of finding faults with the departments or agencies implementing different development programmes, but should be used for taking corrective measures to bridge the gap between the government intended objectives of the programs and the beneficiaries. Key focus should be laid on creating a sense of accountability through the Social Audit for providing remedy for the rightful entitlements in the least possible time.”

He also stated that the whole idea of Social Audit exists to help people, and this intention should guide the entire social audit process in the State.

Principal Secretary, Programme Implementation & Evaluation Department, Government of Meghalaya, Sampath Kumar said that the whole intent of Social Audit is to be used as a tool to facilitate a participatory governance model in Meghalaya.

Kumar stressed on the need for such consultative meetings to bring about constructive reforms in the Act as a way forward.

He added, “Social Audit is part of an important mechanism for building the State Capability while improving the Citizen-State relationship. The State Capability enhancement Project (SCEP) was launched by the Government of Meghalaya, and social audit is an important pillar as part of addressing critical developmental gaps in the State.”

Presenting his views, Carmo Noronha, Director, Bethany Society, Shillong emphasized on the need to use data collected through social audit effectively for improving decisions pertaining to policy reforms as well as improving public service.

Noronha said, “This would serve the true purpose of social audits, especially at the community level.”

He also suggested that the social auditors from one village be deployed for auditing purposes in some other villages, on a rotational basis, to reduce chances of biasness and discrepancies.

He also urged the government to consider involving women through the Self Help Groups as social auditors to bring about credibility and more community participation.

Activist, Angela Rangad urged the need for making Social Audit in Meghalaya more open to the community as well as the importance of intensive awareness drives about social audit among people.

Rangad also highlighted how in Meghalaya, women do not have institutional decision making rights and opportunities, despite being a matrilineal society.

 

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