CAG Vinod Rai, while speaking at Harvard Kennedy School, said that we may not be able to wipe out corruption, but our endeavour is to uncover instances of crony capitalism. However, this has not gone down well with the UPA government with Manish Tewari asking the CAG not to cross the laxman rekha
Rebutting criticism that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is exceeding its mandate; Vinod Rai (CAG) said the role of a public auditor cannot be confined to merely placing reports in Parliament. However, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), while hitting back at the CAG, said people with a constitutional post should not cross the laxman rekha (limits).
Rai, whose reports on losses from 2G spectrum and coal block allocations sparked allegations of massive corruption in the government, has said that the CAG would endeavour to uncover instances of crony capitalism and counsel the government to support enterprises and not entrepreneurs.
Referring to the criticism sparked by the CAG’s reports on 2G spectrum and coal scams, he said, “Should we, as public auditors, limit our role to placing reports in Parliament or go beyond that and seek to sensitise public opinion on our audit observations, especially so in social sector audits such as rural health, primary education, water pollution, environment and drinking water?”
Hear CAG Vinod Rai speak on ‘Government Accountability is the key to a Vibrant Democracy’ on the 3rd Anniversary of Moneylife Foundation, on 15 February 2013. For more details and registration, please click here.
Manish Tewari, minister for information and broadcasting, however said that people (Rai) with a constitutional post should not criticize the government outside the country.
Speaking with reporters in Chennai, Tewari said, "...it is most unfortunate that the C&AG rather than validating the integrity of his numbers (on presumptive loss of Rs1.76 lakh crore in the 2G scam) chooses to criticise the Government on foreign soil and at a foreign fora".
Replying to Rai’s 'accountant' remark, Congress leader Digvijay Singh, wondered if the CAG wants to become the prime minister. “If the judiciary will do the executive’s work, the CAG will formulate policies and the civil society will formulate laws, then how will democracy run? What does the CAG want to become if not an accountant? Does he intend to become the prime minister?” he asked.
The UPA government has debunked the CAG’s reports and accused it of exceeding its mandate. In defence, Rai said the Indian democracy is maturing and the urban middle-class is getting more involved in citizen’s affairs. “We continue to tread the new path in the belief that the final stakeholder is the public at large,” he said. The CAG’s audits ensure judicious use of public money, he said in his speech at Harvard Kennedy School.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other opposition parties, however, have supported Rai. Senior BJP leader and former minister of finance, Yashwant Sinha said, “I agree with what Vinod Rai has said, no doubt that he has strengthened the CAG.”
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