Kerala

CAG report row takes a political turn

Chandy contests findings in the report, alleges mala fide in its preparation

The controversy over the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) finding that the concession agreement between the Kerala government and the Adani Group had gone against the State’s interests appears set to drag the CAG’s office into a political controversy with former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, during whose tenure the agreement was signed, formally contesting the findings of the CAG’s report and alleging mala fide in its preparation.

In a detailed letter submitted to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Shashikant Sharma, Mr. Chandy termed several of the observations in the report, tabled in the State Assembly on May 23, were ‘contrary to facts’ and prepared without observing due procedures.

The reports have come amidst reports that the CAG is looking to the complaint that the State was not given the opportunity to explain its position on the audit objections. Reports that could not be independently verified also spoke of the CAG having summoned the officers who were involved in the preparation of the report in question.

In detailed statement on the subject immediately after tabling of the GAG’s report, Mr. Chandy had pointed out that though the State government had submitted detailed replies at various stages of audit, these were ‘not properly credited or considered’ before finalisation of the CAG’s report.

The Principal AG had invited the then Principal Secretary (Ports), Government of Kerala, for a meeting in August 2016, but had failed to be present for the meeting in spite of the Principal Secretary visiting his office. This, Mr. Chandy contended, was a serious procedural flaw.

The Principal Secretary had also sought continuation of the discussions with the audit team. His request was recorded in the minutes, but the Principal Secretary was not given the opportunity later to present the State government’s case.

The former Chief Minister had also raised questions about the role played by a former audit officer who was engaged by the AG to support the audit team. The person in question had written two articles in a Malayalam weekly earlier criticising the deal.

The views expressed in the audit report were vastly similar to the views expressed by him in these articles, Mr. Chandy had said, claiming that his government had taken all possible care to strictly follow the guidelines of Ministry of Finance and the Planning Commission to make the bid process and agreement most transparent.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 1:54:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/cag-report-row-takes-a-political-turn/article18960909.ece

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