Major focus will be on developing local body audits in Kerala, says Dr Biju Jacob

Written By: on Aug 3rd, 2011 and filed under Columns, Opinions.

Dr Biju Jacob (IA&AS) replying to felicitations by the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Muscat. Also seen are Rev Fr James Geevarghese (Vicar), Fr Varghese George, Abraham Mathew (Trustee), Cherian P Thomas (Co-Trustee) and Biju Parumala (Secretary)

Excerpts from the interview:

Q) Congrats on your new post. How does it feel like to get back to your home state where you spent a major part of your study and grooming?

A) I feel very happy to be back in Kerala. For about 10 years I was working outside Kerala – in Gujarat, Muscat (Sultanate of Oman) and Nagaland. So this is a real ‘home coming’.

Q) What will be the nature of your present job as Accountant General in Kerala? Can you briefly explain?

A) Accountant General (AG) represents the CAG of India in a state and acts as a watch dog of the financial performance of the state government. Interestingly; the job is not limited to monitoring expenditure alone; but includes various other areas like – tax collection, performance of various development programmes, environmental impact and others. In other words; we keep a tab on the entire functions of the state government.
Now, local bodies like panchayats (local government body) and municipalities – have come up as the three-tier of the government. This is a priority area for the CAG of India. So my primary focus will be on developing local body audits in Kerala.

Q) AG’s have to promote accountability, transparency and good governance in their work. How will you go about this in your present position?

A) As an organisation, we are one of the oldest institutions dating back to 1860. Hence the systems are well established. It has one of the best qualified manpower in the government sector. Moreover, we have computerised all the core areas of functioning. Thus, any AGs enjoy a great organisational advantage vis-a-vis many other heads of departments. I would like to build upon these advantages – especially on manpower and IT.

Q) How challenging will it be considering that a new government has taken over in Kerala?

A) We are neither influenced nor affected by the ruling party or the government. We always get good co-operation from the government in power – thanks to the constitutional safeguards. So change in government does not pose any challenge.

The real challenge will be volume and complexity of the audit work that needs to be done; so as to track each rupee to its final destination.

Q) How was your previous tenure in Nagaland and could you share some experiences as the AG there.

A) Nagaland was a unique experience – the land, the people, the climate and the challenges were all different. North east had a unique role during World War II too, being the site of direct fight between the British and the Japanese. So Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland, has a colossal war cemetery and memorial dedicated to the memories of the heroes of World War II.

However, the most interesting aspect was the great regard of the Naga people for the Keralites. Malayalees had contributed a lot towards their development. Till recently, almost all the teachers were Malayalees. Even now; there are many Malayalees working in key positions – not because of the high status or rank; but by sheer hard work. Catholic priests and nuns from Kerala are serving the remotest corners of Nagaland from 1970s . In fact; I felt very proud to be a Malayalee during my tenure there.

Q) Your advice to younger generation planning to take up professional courses..

A) I had training and experience in three totally different professional streams namely medicine, management and Indian Civil service. I had done a lot of slogging too. Despite all these, the greatest lesson I have learned in life is that you cannot accomplish anything without a strong faith in God. Without His Grace all our efforts are fruitless and vain.

Q) What are your interests other than your job?

A) Teaching is the activity I like most. I should have become a teacher. I enjoy public speaking especially on motivating people and cultivating faith in God.

Q) Any other information which you would like to share.

A) I consider Muscat as a very attractive city. I really enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the city a lot. Now, I am going to miss Muscat.

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