Not against multi-member CAG, but want adequate powers: Vinod Rai

Not being averse to idea of multi-member CAG institution, Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai on Friday said the change should be accompanied by conferment of adequate responsibility and power to the public auditor.

New Delhi: CAG Vinod Rai, whose audit reports had exposed the scams in 2G spectrum allocation and other issues, on Friday appeared to suggest that the official auditor should have the powers of punishment.

He said that he was not averse to the CAG being made a multi-member body but it should have "attendant powers and responsibilities".

"There is nothing wrong in their suggestion. There are different models all around. There are multi-member bodies. In France, they sit as a court, believe me their powers are fantastic. They can punish defaulters.”

"There are commission models and again with absolutely far reaching powers. So in terms of power it is poor CAG of India who actually has no powers. He just prepares audit reports and submits to Parliament," Rai, who is to demit office in a few months, said speaking at a conclave.

He was replying to a question on the suggestion of former CAG VK Shunglu to transform CAG into a multi-member body to make it more effective. He, however, did not elaborate on what powers the CAG should have.

Rai said that the suggestion of multi-member CAG was made by the Justice Venkatachaliah committee that went into the issue of re-writing the Constitution.

"At that time, the comments from the institution of CAG was that it should not be made a multi-level body. But we, about 3 years back or two years back, had said, yes make it a multi-member body but then with attendant powers and responsibilities".

Defending his proactive approach, Rai emphasised that the job of the public auditor was also to ensure that executive and the government are held financially accountable to legislature.

The CAG had come under attack from various spokesmen of the government and the Congress party on its report on 2G spectrum and coal block allocations.

Referring to the changing role of CAG, Rai said: "Our job is not merely to audit the expenditure of government or government institutions. Our mandate today is far more than what it was 65 years ago. The entire job of public auditor today is to ensure that the executive, the government is held financially accountable to legislature. Ultimate power rests with people."