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Pti

Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday called for a wider debate on harmonising the welfare and development objectives against the backdrop of governments "doling out freebies".

He also said Parliament should meet for a minimum of 100 days every year and state legislatures for at least 90.

Addressing an event in the Central Hall of Parliament to mark 100 years of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Naidu said expenditures must be carefully balanced so that both the short-term and the long-term development objectives get equal attention.

"We are all alive to the present scenario of governments indulging in doling out freebees for obvious reasons. While ensuring the welfare and social security of the needy people is an important obligation of the governments, it is time that there is a wider debate on harmonising the welfare and development objectives," he said in the presence of President Ram Nath Kovind, Speaker Om Birla and PAC chairmsn Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Since the PAC has to examine the effectiveness of resource use in terms of socioeconomic outcomes "it may be in order for the Committee to examine the issue of balancing these two objectives for wider consideration", he said.

The Rajya Sabha Chairman lamented that members of Parliament do not attend meetings of parliamentary committees. It was time for "introspection", he said.

Pointing to the scope of wasteful expenditure and misutilisation of scarce resources, Naidu recalled former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi saying about 35 years back that out of every rupee spent, only 16 paise went to the people.

Based on the experience of the last 100 years, the PAC can reinvent itself to more effectively handle the complexity of scrutinising the accounts and audit of expenditure through capacity-building, accessing the inputs of experts and information exchanges for setting higher benchmarks and adoption of best practices elsewhere, he said.

"Since the audit review is also a core function of PAC, I suggest that it may be re-designated as Public Accounts and Audit Committee (PA and AC)," he said.

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