Government committed to strengthening CAG, asserts PM

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday his government was committed to strengthening the institution of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the country’s top audit body, in order to improve transparency and accountability.

‘Let me take this opportunity to re-affirm our government’s commitment to strengthen the institution of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, as part of our broader efforts to improve transparency and accountability in the work of our government,’ Manmohan Singh said addressing 150th anniversary of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.

Emphasising the need for accurate and balanced report by the country’s top audit institution, the prime minister said CAG reports were taken ‘very seriously’ by the government, parliament, media and the public at large.

‘This casts a huge responsibility on the institution to ensure that its reports are accurate, balanced and fair. Very often, there is a very thin line between fair criticism and fault finding, between hazarding a guess and making a reasonable estimate, between a bonafide genuine error and a deliberate mistake,’ he said.

The CAG report on the 2G spectrum allocation controversy, which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday, has held A. Raja, who was telecom minister until Sunday, responsible for over Rs.1,70,000 crore loss to the exchequer because of irregularities in allocation of 2G spectrum licences.

Terming the audit institution an important watchdog of democracy, Singh said, ‘It falls upon this institution to sift the wheat from the chaff, to distinguish between wrong-doing and genuine errors, to appreciate the context and circumstances of decision making processes.’

‘This requires a very high degree of professional skill and competence. The institution of Comptroller and Auditor General has acquitted itself very credibly in the past 150 years. However, times are changing and so are our needs. The institution will have, therefore, to further enhance its capabilities and its skills and re-orient itself to deliver results that our nation expects,’ he added.

The prime minister said the government was taking measures to ensure quick and timely action on CAG reports.

‘I am aware of the concerns regarding the inadequate and delayed response to the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General. The ministry of finance has taken a number of initiatives which I hope will lead to an improvement in this area,’ Singh said.

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