Public accountability of private sector

A Transparency International India survey that checked PSUs' adherence to the Integrity Pact has come out with significant findings. The survey found that the pact—signed by PSUs with the international civil society body—has brought transparency in PSUs' procurement process.

The survey, conducted through Management Development Institute (MDI), also found that 100% public sector undertakings, 95% independent external monitors and 90% bidders felt the private sector should also adopt the pact to bring transparency in the procurement process. "Bribery from the officials of private sector fund is rampant. Government must bring a strong deterrent tool to curb corruption in the private sector", the report said. It appears that corruption is common to both public and private sectors. Under such a scenario, there is a strong case to bring deterrents and checks and balances in the private sector as well. This will level the playing field for PSUs and benefit corporates.

Governments across the globe have generally allowed transfer of public money to private hands through privatisation. Therefore, when public money has changed hands from public to private, adequate checks and balances have to be put in place to judge the fairness, corruption and transparency aspects between public and private partners.

For the 12th Five-Year Plan, the Planning Commission has envisioned an investment of R41 lakh crore, of which R21 lakh crore for key infra sectors like power, road, bridges, telecom, railways, urban development, irrigation, ports, airports, and petroleum and natural gas. In many of these sectors, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are being promoted by the government. There have been 758 PPP projects in key sectors where a contract has been awarded and projects are under way, according to the ministry of finance. The total projects cost of these is about R3,833 lakh crore.

For the success of any PPP or public-funded infrastructure or service, mutual coordination and cooperation among government agencies are critical. PPPs need to be sustained through regulatory and policy mechanisms that ensure checks and balances. Extending the Right To Information Act and CAG audit to the private sector would bring transparency in PPP projects.

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