Manish Tewari pulls up CAG for targetting Govt. at international forum

Chennai, Feb 8 (ANI): Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Friday lashed out at Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai for hitting out at the Manmohan Singh-led UPA II Government at an international forum, and said that constitutional authorities should be circumscribed by the 'Lakshman Rekha' propriety.

"Well, I think it's not a question of accountants-qua-auditors. The question is about integrity of numbers. Our question as to Mr. CAG where is the 1,76,000 crores, still continues to hang in the air. So, therefore it's most unfortunate that the CAG rather than validating the integrity of his numbers chooses to criticize the government on foreign soil and at foreign for a," said Tewari.

"And this is not the first time that he has done it and I think constitutional authorities should be circumscribed by the 'Lakshman Rekha' propriety," he added.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Rajnath Singh, however, refused to comment on the issue.

"I have neither read any statement nor any report of the CAG. Until I don't read it, how can I make any comment," he told media in New Delhi.

In his lecture at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts (U.S.) yesterday, the CAG took on the government for attempting to reduce the federal auditor to a mere accountant with no real role in auditing policy.

Rai, whose reports on losses from 2G spectrum and coal block allocations sparked allegations of massive corruption in the government, said that the role of a public auditor cannot be confined to merely placing reports in Parliament.

"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 in the social sector such as rural health, primary education, water pollution, environment, drinking water etc?" he said.

It may be recalled here that the Congress-led UPA II Government has debunked the CAG's reports and accused it of exceeding its mandate.

In the CAG's defence, Rai said that 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. The CAG's audits ensure judicious use of public money," Rai said.

"We may not be able to wipe out corruption, but our endeavour is to uncover instances of crony capitalism. The government should be seen to support enterprise per se and not particular entrepreneurs," he added.

Maintaining that the auditing of government and public entities has a positive impact on trust in society, Rai said: "It focuses the minds of the custodians of the public purse to use resources effectively, as they know that after an audit scrutiny, the public will be aware of their actions." (ANI)

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