Should the word Government be followed by a singular or a plural verb?
It depends on the meaning that you wish to convey. It can be followed by either a singular or a plural verb. The same word on many occassions may convey different meanings. This is one such word. The word Committee is used in such a manner. This word Committee can be used either as singular noun or as a plural noun. The same rule is applicable for this word also.
For example, we can say:
• The Government have decided to call off the meeting with the terrorists.
• The Government has decided to call off the meeting with the terrorists.
Both sentences are grammatically acceptable. The meaning however is slightly different. In the second sentence - the one with the singular verb - you are thinking of the Government as a single entity. In other words, the various departments of the government form one big unit. In the first sentence, on the other hand, you are thinking of the government as consisting of distinct individual units. In this case, you don't see the various departments coming together to form a single entity. They all exist independently. So, whether you use a singular or a plural verb depends on you. It depends on the meaning that you wish to convey.
Here are some more nouns, which can be followed by either a singular or plural verb: committee, jury, staff, team, family or firm.
COURTESY : The Hindu (The National News-Paper) - India