India's top auditor deposes on 2G, stands by loss figures
government auditor Vinod Rai Tuesday stood by his calculated
presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum
allocation, a day after his former colleague had dismissed the
figure as a "mathematical guess"
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,
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
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
"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
"This is all bogus, totally false and baseless. It is an attempt
to malafide (sic) the PAC and CAG," Joshi told reporters here.