State actions cannot be measured solely in terms of money: CAG

New Delhi: Under attack from the government, Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai today said the institution was aware that State actions cannot be measured solely in terms of money.

"We are conscious that many of the actions of Government cannot be measured solely in terms of money. Social objectives, in many cases cannot be quantified," Rai said in his welcome address to the Conference of Accountants General.

"It has been our endeavour to look beyond the financials and judge the results. Our performance audits take a holistic view of the programme," he said. The inaugural function also saw chairmen of two key financial committees of Parliament--Public Accounts and Public Undertakings--spar on the recent reports of the CAG.

State actions cannot be measured solely in terms of money: CAG

Vinod Rai.

Congress leader Jagambika Pal, who heads the Committee on Public Undertakings, had a word of caution for the CAG and asked the auditor to refrain from verifying the rationale behind public policies.

"The CAG has also at times termed expeditious decisions of government as hasty. Such observations would adversely affect the decision making process in government," he said. "No doubt their role and responsibilities go beyond simply accounting to analysing the role and efficacy of executive decisions, but in discharge of its responsibilities the C&AG has to respect certain boundaries," Pal said.

BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, rued the erosion in the respect for Constitutional provisions, institutions, procedures and rules of Parliamentary conduct to an extent of open criticism of the CAG by high government functionaries.

"The authority of the CAG under the Constitution of India has time and again been challenged and motives have been attributed to the performance audits conducted by the CAG," he said.

Joshi said he was sure that the continuous tirade against this supreme audit institution would not in any way deter the officers from discharge of their Constitutional duties.

"... but (it) will in the long run produce a deep psychological stress in this vital organ central for a vibrant, transparent and accountable democracy in our country," he said.

The recent reports of the CAG, particularly on coal block allocations, had come under sharp attack from the government with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing them as "disputable and flawed".

Joshi drew the attention of President Pranab Mukherjee, who was present at the conference, his statements as Finance Minister underlining the importance of the PAC and CAG in fortifying the governance system in India.

"I, therefore, request you, as the defender of the Constitution, to give wise counsel and get this dangerous attack, not only on the CAG but also the entire constitutional mechanism, designed by our founding fathers to ensure accountability and transparency, stopped," he said.

Rai said it has been the endeavour of the CAG to continue to provide constructive suggestions for mid-course corrections in the delivery of government schemes.

"In this process, we have proactively engaged with ministries in providing our input. This approach is based on the fundamental premise that public audit is as much a partner in upgrading governance as any other department in government," he said. "We, however, cannot don the role of cheerleaders. We strive to provide objective feedback on the functioning of the various departments of the government," Rai said.

PTI

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Updated Date: Oct 08, 2012 17:05:59 IST

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