Q & A

Q-More and more autonomy to PSUs leads to the problem of accountability v/s control.

In the beginning of 1980s when functioning of PSUs began to be questioned, it was increasingly realized that PSUs should be given operational freedom to take quick decision with minimum red-tape and formalities. The PSUs should be free from outside political interference in its day-to-day operation. Later in LPG era, PSUs are given greater financial and functional autonomy so that they could compete with market forces and harness their potential to become global players.
 
But as PSUs are created by public money, its accountability to people can’t be compromised. Parliament must have right to know how this investment is being utilized for the benefit of people in efficient manner.
 
Parliament ensures PSUs accountability in following ways:
1. Parliamentary questions
2. Budget discussion
3. Annual report of PSUs activities, policies and programs is laid before both houses of parliament.
4. Other than PAC and Estimate committee, ‘Committee on PSUs’ is formed which examine reports and accounts of PSUs.
 
On the recommendation of Arjun Sen Gupta committee (committee to review the policy for public enterprises) govt. started MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) system. The purpose of this was to bring out a balance between autonomy and accountability. Goal is to reduce ‘quantity’ of control and to increase ‘quality’ of accountability. This is sought to be done by specifying the in clear terms the measurable goal and giving PSUs to greater operational autonomy to achieve them. 
 
Minister has been given power to issue the directive so that PSU can align itself as per the requirement of public policy and co-ordination with national plan.
 
For the purpose of autonomy, govt. has launched Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna scheme but govt. approval is required to invest beyond a certain amount.
 
Hence it can be easily said that while providing autonomy to PSUs, proper check and balances are ensured for accountability. All this actually has helped PSUs in ensuring efficient operation.