CAG and government not adversaries, says Finance Minister

P Chidambaram
New Delhi, Oct 9: The government and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) today said that they were not adversaries of each other.

Their statements came against the backdrop of controversy over audit findings of the CAG, objected to by senior government functionaries.

"It is my intention and desire as Minister of Finance to work with CAG to erase the impression of adversaries and restore trust and confidence in all institutions of government," Finance Minister P Chidambaram said while addressing a conference of the CAG.

Auditors are neither adversaries nor fault finding experts though they endeavour to provide honest and objective feedback to the government, said CAG Vinod Rai.

"Audit is not an adversary. Neither is it merely a fault finding mechanism. We like to see ourselves as providing an objective and balanced feedback to the government without fear or favour," Rai said.

The audit findings of the CAG, especially on allocation of coal blocks and 2G spectrum, were severely criticised by senior government functionaries.

Chidambaram said, "Unfortunately...Some dissonance has crept into the public discourse and for reasons which are inexplicable, the CAG and the government have been cast as adversarial to each other...Perhaps this in the nature in the functions of the government and CAG."

Policymaking, the Minister said, "is often through trial and error. Decisions are taken often without full info and in an environment of uncertainty. Audit is a post decision exercise. Perhaps because of the nature of functions, they are cast as adversaries to each other."

Rai, meanwhile, clarified, "We do not for a moment think that it is our business to tell the government what to do and what not to do. We tell the government, through our audit reports, whether departments were able to achieve what they set out to achieve."


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