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Pranab compliments CAG work, gets Joshi's praise

Wednesday November 16, 2011 10:29:02 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Complimenting the role of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in putting checks and balances on the use of taxpayers' money, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday said the government proposes to amend the regulatory framework to give the official auditor greater role and make it "more effective".

"The government is working on proposals for amendments to CAG (DPC) Act, 1971 that will make the institution of the CAG more effective in dealing with the new mechanisms of administration," Mukherjee said in his address on the 150th anniversary of the institution.

The CAG is a constitutional entity governed by the Comptroller and Auditor General's (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971.

The finance minister's comment assumes significance as a section of government officials and several ministers have criticised the CAG saying the auditor was crossing its limits, especially in regard to its report on 2G spectrum allocation.

Mukherjee advocated the need for expanding the role of the auditor, saying it would help curb corruption and bring transparency in the system.

"Given CAG's audit mandate, extending across all agencies at the centre, state and local levels I urge you to become catalysts of process re-engineering. Identify processes that need to be extinguished and guide the departments in adopting best practices from India and abroad," he said.

Senior BJP leader and chairman of parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Murli Manohar Joshi praised the finance minister for his defence of the government's official auditor and the PAC.

Addressing the 150th anniversary celebration of the CAG here, Joshi said: "I congratulate the finance minister for your support and believe that you will continue to support these institutions. They are highly dependent on you for the principle of transparency."

Referring to the criticism of CAG and PAC by a section of government officials and several ministers, Joshi said: "It is heartening that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has come out in support of these institutions."

The finance minister said the CAG has not crossed its limits and it was merely discharging its constitutional responsibilities by highlighting irregularities in the public transactions involving taxpayers money.

"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," said Mukherjee adding the auditor would have to play a critical role in keeping checks and balances by pointing out such irregularities."

Mukherjee said the government was fully committed to eradicate the virus of corruption, which is a "many headed hydra".

"Your role in providing assurance to multiple stakeholders - the legislature, the executive and the public at large - that taxpayers' funds are well spent is a critical element of the processes laid down by the constitution for public accountability," Mukherjee told the auditors in his address.

Earlier addressing the event, Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai dismissed allegations that PAC chief Joshi had tried to influence his report on the allocation of telecom spectrum.

"There was no pressure from any quarter on this department (Comptroller and Auditor General, or CAG,) with regard to the audit of allocation of 2G spectrum. The CAG has always taken a stern view of any attempts of pressure or interference in the discharge of his constitutional duties and functions," said Rai.

Joshi has also refuted such allegations saying it was "bogus and malafide".

"This is all bogus, totally false and baseless. It is an attempt to malafide (sic) the PAC and CAG," Joshi told reporters here.





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