Hindustan Times
Chetan Chauhan
New Delhi

India’s accounting watchdog the Comptroller and Auditor General has agreed to supervise the auditing of accounts of registered political parties and expenditure of candidates contesting in elections for legislative bodies. Each registered political party is required to submit annual financial statement with the commission and candidates contesting polls have to submit expenditure reports with the returning officers.

The commission does not have wherewithal to analyse them as there are over 1,100 political parties and thousands contest elections. And, therefore it wanted CAG to audit the accounts.

Documents released under Right To Information Act to NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) show that Roy Mathani, Director General, CAG, had agreed to monitor audit done by chartered accounts empanelled by the constitutional body. The reply was in response to ADR’s RTI application regarding steps being taken for better financial monitoring of domestic Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).

Mathani was also of the view this will help in ensuring transparency in the functioning of political parties and CAG could conduct an overall audit of the findings of the chartered accountants. A similar mechanism for conducting audit of election expense accounts maintained by District Election Officers was also suggested.

“The political parties are public bodies, as exemption from tax is allowed on their funds. Therefore, their accounts should be audited by a panel appointed by CAG as it is done in case of Public Sector Units,” Mathani said, as per the documents released under RTI.

In order to have more transparency, Amarjit Chopra, president of Indian Institute of Chartered Accountants wanted that the political parties should submit audit accounts on the pattern of public limited entities and should publish their balance sheet every year. Chopra also wanted that the Income Tax exemption limit for donations paid to political parties should be increased from Rs 20,000 per annum to Rs 50,000.

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