Bringing accountability into the system is the need of the hour

The govt paying mere lip service to people's grievances and the public delivery system
Bringing accountability into the system is the need of the hour

In the week gone by, the government came down heavily on teachers and bureaucrats, holding them responsible for certain failures. Teachers were held accountable for Goa’s poor performance in the National Achievement Survey in mathematics and science, while the chief minister announced that a vigilance inquiry will be initiated in the matter of 200 tonnes of tur dal that was discovered rotten in the godowns of the Civil Supplies Department, further stating that those responsible for allowing the pulses to go bad will be punished.

Bringing accountability into the system is the need of the hour
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Teachers have to be made accountable

Teachers have not taken kindly to what the Chief Minister said, questioning instead whether they have ever not wanted to improve the standard of education in the State. Perhaps they haven’t, but shouldn’t they also admit that if Goa has not fared well in mathematics and science, they do have a part to play in it? Are only the students to be blamed for this? Isn’t the education system also responsible? Except for a few private schools, a large percentage of teachers in Goa are paid for by government grants. They therefore should be accountable to the public as it is the people’s taxes that are paying their salaries.

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Lax attitude of govt staff & elected representatives

On the other hand, the tur dal incident is just one example of how government staff does not take its job seriously. In this case, they allowed 200 tonnes of pulses to rot. There are various other examples, mainly of potholed roads – the Atal Setu being a prime example of this – delays in services, deadlines not met that portray the lax attitude of the government staff. How does Goa hold down the embarrassment of having the National Games being taken away from them and given to Gujarat? After hundreds of crores of rupees having been spent on this, what excuse do the officials have? Are any of them being asked why Goa was not ready for the Games on time? Or, if it is not the fault of the bureaucracy but that of the government, is any minister being held accountable for this?

Bringing accountability into the system is the need of the hour
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Time for action

Clearly, the overcrowded bureaucracy is not worried about responsibility and accountability as they are well aware that governments, whichever party may be in power, do not go beyond public statements on taking action. It’s time some action is taken, otherwise nobody will take such statements seriously, least of all the government staffer. That possibly is one reason, among many, why youth in Goa are so latched on to getting a government job. They are assured that whatever the circumstances, they will not be held accountable.

Bringing accountability into the system is the need of the hour
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Accountability mere lip service

It is an incontrovertible fact that during the past years, this government and the previous one have been at various times announcing that government staff will be held accountable for various commissions and omissions. It has never gone beyond that, and the action that has been threatened has never been taken. There was a time when the government had even said that staff coming late to office or holding second jobs will be acted upon. Again, there was no follow-up action. Against this background, is it plausible that accountability in government will ever be introduced in Goa? The statements do not sound convincing.

Bringing accountability into the system is the need of the hour
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The tur dal fiasco

For a change, and to make us change our views, it would be refreshing to see action taken against those officials responsible for allowing tur dal to rot in its godowns. But, given past experience of how long a vigilance probe takes and how governments have reluctantly acted on such reports, the wait would possibly be a long one.

Accountability has to be across all departments and not just when a particular department is found wanting in delivery or makes errors that are highlighted in the media. One positive outcome of accountability will be the better delivery of services by government departments. As long as accountability does not exist, but the government overlooks the inferior quality of services, there will be no improvement.

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Good governance: Where is it?

Currently, the government displays some ambivalence towards the working of its departments and officers, this will require a systemic change. If there are promises of good governance made at the time of an election campaign, can such good governance be delivered if the vast bureaucracy is not held accountable? Transparency and accountability are what citizens would want in their daily lives, but will this ever happen?

Good governance delivery can happen only when the political arm of the government and the administration are in tune with each other, with the common goal being delivery of services to the people. The former will constantly make statements on this, but if there is no concerted effort made to make it happen, the bureaucracy will not rise from the slumber that it has been perpetually in.

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Political will must to bring about change

What is often overlooked is that the State has the law that empowers it to ensure the delivery of services. The law in question is the Goa Right of Citizen to Time Bound Delivery of Public Services Act. It is the implementation of this that fails. It has not brought any change in the manner in which government departments function, clearly indicating that it has failed. There is another provision which allows people to file public grievances online. Do the aggrieved get their grievances redressed?

All that can happen if the government converts its statements on accountability and responsibility into action. All it requires is some political will to bring about the change.

Bringing accountability into the system is the need of the hour
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