Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday maintained that even as every decision of the government was not likely to be the most optimal, the possibility of institutional failures, oversight and ignorance could impact the decision-making process.
In his address at a concluding function here to mark the celebration of 150 years of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG), Mr. Mukherjee said: “In a world of growing complexities and uncertainties, not every decision by the government is likely to be the most optimal. The possibility of institutional failures, oversight and ignorance impacting the decision-making process cannot be ruled out.”
Mr. Mukherjee pointed out that while reviewing the work of others, institutions and individuals, who had the “benefit of hindsight,” could provide invaluable guidance in improvement of processes to improve decision making and attain greater efficiency. “We should all be cautious in determining mala fide intent as distinct from bona fide errors of judgment or divergent opinions on policy options,” he said.
The Finance Minister's statement assumes significance in the light of the CAG's report on 2G and the various investigations that are ongoing in this regard.
The government, Mr. Mukherjee said, was committed to ensuring better internal audit practices which would complement the CAG's work. The government was fully committed to rooting out the virus of corruption from the system, which, he described as “a many headed hydra.” Many of its causes were rooted in the colonial legacy of the administration and the excessive government controls over planned economic activity.
Describing the CAG's role in audit of social sector spending as “particularly crucial,” Mr. Mukherjee said that while the government was committed to allocating the resources for socio-economic development programmes, it had to be ensured that every rupee spent “gets the best benefits.” “Given the CAG's audit mandate, extending across all agencies at the Centre, State and local levels, I urge you to become catalysts of re-engineering process,” he said.
Responding to CAG Vinod Rai's assertion that the mandate of 1971 was proving inadequate to cover schemes being implemented through newer models of governance, Mr. Mukherjee said the government was working on proposals to amend the relevant Act that would make the CAG as an institution more effective in dealing with the “new mechanisms of administration.”
Lauding the professionalism and integrity of audit and accounts officials in the discharge of their constitutional mandate, Mr. Mukherjee said: “None of us should hesitate in exposing misdemeanour and corrupt practices. But then we should not shy away from reporting the good news as well.”
In his address, Mr. Rai noted that the CAG, as an institution, would remain a key pillar of India's vibrant democracy and respond to the needs of the time in the future and the common man would draw greater assurance from its work.