Maintaining that auditors cannot simply be “cheerleaders,” Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai on Sunday said their mandate was to hold the government financially accountable to the legislature.
“Our role is not merely to audit the expenditure of government. Our mandate is not merely to prepare Audit Report and place them in Parliament. Our mandate is to hold the government financially accountable to the legislature. We cannot don the role of cheerleaders,” Mr. Rai said while delivering the Harekrushna Mahatab memorial lecture here.
Obviously referring to statements of certain politicians in power on the CAG’s role in recent years, Mr. Rai said CAG’s professional specialisation was to point out sub-optimality in policy formulation, lacuna in policy implementation and provide constructive suggestions for overcoming inadequacies.
Since young citizenry would seek a voice in administration and policy formulation, Mr. Rai said it became incumbent upon to audit and to sensitise public opinion on its findings in the course of audit.
“We have also taken steps to disseminate our major audit findings in schemes implemented in the social sector through small pamphlets,” he said.
Though elected executives are supreme in parliamentary democracy, Mr. Rai said bureaucracy needs to be bold and loyal to the Constitution and not to any “individual.”
“They [bureaucracy] have to keep the nation in focus and not hold to their kursi. The Indian bureaucracy has all the muscles — at times these turn to fat and get lodged in the wrong places,” he remarked.
No question of leakage
Rejecting claims about leakage of CAG reports before being tabled in Parliament, Mr. Rai said: “There is no question of any leakage. It is very simple. We are part of the RTI. If we are preparing a report and someone asked certain question under RTI, we have to give him/her. There is a ruling of the Central Information Commission saying that anybody wanting anything during the report preparation can get the reply.”
He said the figures calculated in different audits such as 2G-spectrum, coal block allocation and Commonwealth Games issues were based on certain substances. “The CAG reports on different matters that are in [the] public domain. We stick to our calculation in coal block allocation issue and others. If there is a debate, let it be,” he said while replying to a question on the criticism of CAG’s figure in certain scams.
Stating that every report was unique, he said the CAG did not make any calculation on its own. “We do it on the basis of certain substances,” he said.
On accountability, Mr. Rai said: “The job of the CAG is to audit, prepare reports and place them in the Parliament. What Parliament or [the] Public Accounts Committee (PAC) do after that is not on us.”