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CAG: Making the opaque transparent

Accountability is the hallmark of a democratic set-up (editorial “CAG revelations”, August 20). Unfortunately, things are becoming more and more opaque in our country. CAG revelations have clarified that more than 50% of the Central government budget is spent in a most unaccountable way and nothing is known about this huge expenditure. This is the bane of an open economy. One per cent of the population the world over could corner 8% of the total global wealth during the 1970s. The single-digit figure has grown to 24% after the concept of market economy was introduced. Even in this high figure, India’s contribution should be proportionately higher.

The Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry have remained silent on this issue. The large section of the population, literate or illiterate, can’t be blamed when facts remain hidden under the debris of relatively less meaningful happenings. The accountability in the open market economy can be ensured through competent and honest regulators only.

PD SHARMA, Ludhiana


Allocations are purposely done in place of auctions to favour private companies in return for huge money through an unholy nexus between the politicians and the government workforce. The government’s defence to justify coal block allocation is totally irrelevant and illogical. The prices cannot be linked with high bidding; the government is empowered to fix the prices and make the terms and conditions in a manner which effectively checks private companies exploiting the consumers.

The only legitimate method to allocate natural resources and telecommunication is through competitive biddings and not by allocation either on first-come-first-serve basis or through recommendation by a screening committee.

The CAG cannot be questioned by a politician like Congress party spokesperson Manish Tiwari who said that “CAG is fond of adding more zeros in the amount of losses of the public exchequer”. The CAG is not a politician like him indulging in loose talk and propagating blatant lies. The Public Account Committee must examine this CAG report with unbiased thinking and bring the truth to the surface.



For long, the CAG has stuck essentially to post audit. A system of Internal Audit (IA) was set up but it had no teeth as it was part of the line management and subject to influence. Auditing governments and their ministries need to be reinvented. Constructive on-line audit interventions by IA must replace post-audit. This will make the IA audit team a stakeholder rather than an adversary as it is now. Post-audit can then look into areas of policy formulation so that it can identify zones of concern and evolve guide posts.

With the economy going global, a good auditor is one who has been able to identify areas of aggressive caution and ready to help out when national or international commercial scenarios change abruptly. At present, neither the auditor is happy putting out reports on matters sometimes beyond his reach nor the administrator who had taken major decisions based on the circumstances at a given point in time. Clearly, all this demands auditors of the highest calibre who are well-versed in multifarious aspects of formulating decisions instead of merely accounting for notional loss of revenue after public funds have been spent.

R NARAYANAN, Ghaziabad


In the noise of the denials and defence of CAG’s methods of computing losses, let us not overlook the basic question of government inefficiency, arbitrariness and violation of the principle of transparency and accountability in a democratic set-up. Even if we may not accept the notional figure of Rs.1.86 lakh crore loss, yet can we say that the loss is not substantial?

The government decision to allocate its scarce assets and not auction them clearly shows arbitrary, vested and undemocratic patronage and misuse of authority. The CAG reports on coal and Delhi airport also highlight that the terms and conditions of these allotments unduly favoured the promoters at the cost of the taxpayer. Such a use of discretion amounting to dubious and incompetent decisions at the policy level is worse than corruption.


Check corruption at own level

Almost all of us indulge in some sort of corruption daily at an individual level. Interestingly, all of us are oblivious to this form of corruption. KM Chandrasekhar rightly says in his article “Graft not confined to government” (August 13) that corruption in the government is only a part of the overall problem of corruption in society.

The shopkeepers, auto/taxi drivers, rickshaw-pullers, all have their pound of flesh at the cost of the hapless consumer. “Buy one get one free” syndrome is an admission of the prevailing rot which has been glamorised and made to look like a concession to the customer.

The youth blatantly indulge in copying and other unfair means. The advertising agencies regularly churn out ads which they know are making false claims and are misleading. Many private schools, colleges and coaching centres charge huge sums of money in the name of fees in the beginning of the session thus earning huge interest from banks while the poor students pay the fees by taking loans from banks. How will we stem the rot without personal ethics?




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