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CAG could have done better

CAG could have done better

The Comptroller and Auditor Basic of India (CAG) is among the most essential establishments of the nation to make sure public accountability of the manager. Because the CAG’s work essentially entails stating the irregularities, inefficiencies, leakages and corruption in our public monetary administration system, relations between the governments and the CAG are typically adversarial.

CAG studies are identified for his or her political neutrality, robustness of examination and objectivity of conclusions. They carry such excessive credibility with the general public, that studies vital of the federal government generate widespread media and public consideration and carry the potential to break or destroy the federal government’s political capital — CAG studies on the Commonwealth Video games, 2G, coal and different scams are nonetheless alive in public reminiscence. Typically, due to this fact, governments have motive to be cautious about CAG studies.

Appointment of CAG

The one different time the establishment attracts media consideration is on the time of appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor Basic. No different constitutional authority has such an arbitrary and opaque process for appointment, the place the federal government of the day has the only real prerogative of appointing the CAG, with none prescribed {qualifications} or established norms.

Each authorities likes to nominate an individual who it considers shall be minimally dangerous to its picture, although most CAGs have labored independently, with integrity and with out worry or favour.

Nevertheless, of late, the CAG has been within the information for lots of mistaken causes, like allegedly holding up or delaying accomplished studies, tweaking authorized audit plans, suspending filed audits halfway which is finished solely in uncommon conditions just like the pandemic, and even transferring officers who’ve reportedly been concerned with auditing delicate authorities schemes.

The problems have created doubts in public minds due to the potential electoral repercussions of a vital report on the 2024 elections. The truths of those allegations are unverified, however statements put ahead by the CAG’s workplace have been lower than convincing. The variety of studies submitted by the CAG to Parliament has steeply declined through the years, although a few of these studies did deliver out severe irregularities within the working of sure infrastructure tasks in addition to centrally sponsored schemes.

The Authorities often replies to the CAG’s observations earlier than they’re finalised in a report, because the CAG doesn’t participate in public debates on the contents of his studies; they’re self-explanatory and full with all evidences.

However in a departure from established conventions, public authorities are actually calling the CAG studies inaccurate earlier than the media, and in a queer occasion, a Union ministry has rebutted a printed information report on CAG’s observations on authorities accounts, giving elaborate point-wise replies to every commentary to the newspaper which ought to slightly have been furnished to the CAG within the first place. These tendencies that severely undermine the establishment of the CAG are ominous for a democracy, to say the least. One explicit level particularly calls for a solution.

Like all of the earlier governments, the current authorities has additionally launched a sequence of formidable centrally sponsored schemes (CSSs).

These schemes have all the time been controversial due to their potential to advertise the electoral prospects of the ruling get together, they usually have been performed so with brazenness by earlier governments as properly.

Governments are completely inside their rights to improves the situation of weak sections by way of well-delivered social welfare schemes. However there are schemes on which large expenditure has been made through the years whereas there’s a sturdy notion of sub-optimality within the attainment of their targets.

Alternative value

Expenditure has a possibility value, and cash doled out to purchase votes can in any other case create rather more helpful productive capability within the financial system.

A creating nation making an attempt to make up for the misplaced a long time have to allocate expenditure rigorously to optimise progress targets, and financial rationality can’t be made fully subservient to political rationality. That is the place the CAG’s function turns into essential, as a result of solely he can independently and objectively consider the result of schemes and supply suggestions to the federal government.

And on this, the CAG appears to be notably missing. CSSs account for greater than a tenth of the Finances, and within the present fiscal, about 76 per cent of the full CSS price range of ₹4.76-lakh crore has been allotted solely to seven schemes: MGNREGA, PMAY, PMJJM, NEM, NHM, PMKisan and PMGSY. Besides PMAY, studies of which can be found until 2022, and PMKisan, that are understood to be underway, none else has been audited by the CAG past FY 2018. One obvious omission is the MGNREGA that was launched to alleviate rural poverty and concurrently create sturdy rural property.

The final time the CAG had audited it was in 2013, when it was discovered to have served neither trigger. But governments have stored on pouring cash into this scheme, and greater than ₹6-lakh crore has thus far been spent on it. CAG’s audit plans are presupposed to mirror audit threat, and one wonders why a scheme with such large expenditure (₹60,000 crore within the present Finances) has been neglected of audit for over a decade, regardless of it being discovered flawed up to now.

Except the CAG comes out with cogent explanations, doubts in regards to the credibility and impartiality of the establishment will proceed to linger in public minds.

The author is a former Director-Basic of the CAG of India


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