Upset over CAG’s critical observations on procurement of buses in Delhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday asked the top auditor to have “holistic” view and desist from “nit—picking” on small issues.
She also said the critical observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General “discourages” the policymakers and especially bureaucrats in taking decisions as “they are always scared that the CAG will ask why this was done and why so much money was spent.”
“There is always a feeling of trust. Without trust nothing can be done. The systems have to become simpler and far more transparent. For becoming transparent it should become simpler first,” she said at a panel discussion of stakeholders of the audit here organised by the CAG.
On the CAG’s observations that the city government procured low—floor buses at a higher cost, Ms. Dikshit said the buses plying on Delhi’s roads are much cheaper than those procured in Pune, Vijayawada and Uttar Pradesh.
“We changed the buses because we wanted Delhi to become a modern city and that is everyone’s dream too. But we get a report from the CAG that you have wasted public money and that you have got more expensive buses without really evaluating the kind of buses we have got,”
She said instead of “nit—picking” on smaller issue, more important issues such as wastage of water and grains stocked in godowns should be taken and audited.
“There are more important issues like the wastage of water and how many tonnes of grains are stocked in FCI godowns. Those grains can be given to the people and this will reduce the price of commodities... those issues can be looked into,” she said.
“The outcome is much more important. If the outcome is good, visible and satisfies everybody that should be the criteria rather than nit picking... the outcome is visible in Delhi,” she said.
“I would ask the CAG to have a holistic view on the issues and have a humane view and also go deeper in to the issues,” she said.
However, CAG Vinod Rai said his report on Delhi Government’s bus procurement policy was not that statistically simple as mentioned by Ms. Dikshit.
“Please be assured that all are aware of the fact that we should not have brought this in our audit report if it was this statistically simple... after the audit we share the audit with the department concerned,” Mr. Rai said.
”...please permit us the facility of interacting with our officers. They did not interact,” he said.
Ms. Dikshit said the city government paid Rs. 49.99 lakh for each non AC low floor bus while Vijayawada and Uttar Pradesh paid Rs. 50.74 lakh and Rs. 51.5 lakh respectively for each bus.
She said each low—floor AC bus was purchased for Rs. 59.3 lakh in Delhi while Pune paid Rs. 67 lakh for each AC low floor bus.
Ms. Dikshit said the observations on small issues discourages policy makers and bureaucrats to take decisions.
“Our officers are scared to take decisions because they fear that there will be a report from the CAG which will ask why you spent this much,” the Chief Minister said.
In its report for the year ending March 2009, the CAG pointed out about the procurement order for 1,500 non—AC and 1,000 AC low floor buses in September 2008 and said the vehicles were purchased at “rates over and above the justified rate” prescribed by a technical committee.
“The idea of procuring these buses was not only to make Delhi a modern city but to keep people off from car as much as possible... Whatever we have spent is visible for everyone to see and CAG should also have taken a much more holistic view,” she said.
The Chief Minister said Delhi was one of the few States which has spent 98 per cent of budget allocation for planned expenditure for the past three years.
“Not only my government, any government which does this, should get a pat on our back,” she said.
Ms. Dikshit also explained how much efforts her government took to privatise power distribution.
“Now every year Rs. 1,500 crore is being saved on that front alone. We had initial problems but now we are happy and the power distribution is smooth.. Things have to be seen in a broader manner,” she said.
Ms. Dikshit said the media and opposition always picks up only the negative points and highlights them.
Shekhar Gupta, The Indian Express’ Editor—in—Chief, T. N. Ninan of Business Standard, and others also participated in the panel discussion.