Public Accounts Committee

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is one of the standing parliamentary committees, which was first established in 1921 under the Government of India Act 1919 provisions. This committee examines the manners and results of spending the public funds.

Members

Public Accounts Committee has 22 members of which 15 are from Lok Sabha while 7 from Rajya Sabha. The members are “elected” by members of Parliament amongst themselves via a system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote; so that all parties get due representation in it. Members are elected for a period of one year. A minister cannot be a member of PAC.

Chairman

Chairman of PAC is appointed by Speaker from its members. The chairman used to be of ruling party till mid 1960s, however, now the chairman of PAC is from opposition by convention.

Functions
  • PAC examines the three audit reports of CAG submitted to President viz. audit report on appropriation accounts, audit report on finance accounts and audit report on public undertakings.
  • It examines the appropriation accounts and the finance accounts of the Union government and any other accounts laid before the Lok Sabha. While doing this examination, it tries to ensure that money disbursed to various ministries was used for the purpose for which it was given; and this money was used as per rules and regulations.
  • It also examines the accounts of the public service corporations {except those public undertakings which have been allotted to committee on public undertakings}, and other such bodies whose accounts are audited by CAG.

CAG assists PAC in its work and there is a close working relationship between CAG and PAC to secure the accountability of executive in the field of financial administration. This is the reason that CAG is called “Friend, Philosopher and Guide” of PAC.

Similarities between PAC and Estimates Committee
  • Both are financial committees and both are standing committees of parliament
  • Both find their origin in British Era
  • Members of both are elected and chairmen of both are nominated by speaker.
  • A minister cannot be member or chairman of any of them.
Differences between PAC and Estimates Committee
  • While PAC has 22 members, Estimates Committee has 30 members.
  • While PAC members belong to both houses of parliament, Estimates Committee members belong to only Lok Sabha
  • While PAC chairman is from opposition, Estimates Committee Chairman is always from ruling party or dispensation
  • While Estimates committee scrutinizes the Estimates, PAC scrutinizes the appropriation and manner of spending. Thus, work of Estimates Committee is ex-ante analysis while that of PAC is ex post facto analysis.

Last Updated: February 24, 2016

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