President cautions any organ of state against overreaching
New Delhi: Amid a war of words between the government and the opposition over the recent CAG reports, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday cautioned that attempts by any organ of the State to overreach will unnecessarily lead to dissonance within the system.
Inaugurating the 26th Conference of Accountants General, Mukherjee lauded the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for offering the helping hand to governments and local bodies in building up and enhancing skills in financial management.
He also expressed happiness that during the past years, CAG's audit has shifted from routine compliance audit to a more macro perspective.
"I must, however, stress that while redefining organisational roles and boundaries, all constitutional authorities need to adhere to the fine and calibrated system of checks and balances which forms the bedrock of our governance structures," Mukherjee said.
"Any attempt by any organ of the State to overreach will unnecessarily lead to dissonance within the system. It is, therefore, necessary that all constitutional authorities introspect on their respective roles," he said.
Addressing the gathering, Jagdambika Pal, Chairman of the Committee on Public Undertakings asked the CAG to refrain from commenting on policy decisions, which is the domain of the executive.
Pal, a Lok Sabha member of the Congress, said in discharge of its duties the CAG must respect certain boundaries.
Speaking on the occasion, Murli Manohar Joshi, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, rued the attacks on the CAG by high functionaries of the government.
Joshi asked the President to give his wise counsel to get this "dangerous attack" stopped.
Mukherjee termed the CAG as an important part of the governance and accountability structures of the country.
Noting that governance has become much more complex during the past six decades, the President said public expenditure had increased manifold, newer delivery mechanisms have been thought of and brought in to reach services to the people.
"The thrust on developmental administration from a purely revenue earning and law and order centric administrative system represented a major paradigm shift," he said.
Observing that public audit was just one aspect of financial administration, Mukherjee stressed on the importance of introducing a robust internal control system in all spheres of government activity.
He said the Union Ministry of Finance was examining the Report of the Working Group set up to strengthen 'Internal Audit Mechanisms' in Government.
"I am sure that the recommendations, once accepted by the Government, will go a long way in making Internal Audit an effective tool of governance and internal control, thereby complementing the role of the CAG. All these are significant steps towards transparency and good financial administration," he said.
Mukherjee also asked the CAG to present its report in time to enable mid-course corrections in government programmes if required.
"Audit reports are essentially feedback on the many programmes undertaken by the government. The tone and timeliness of such feedback is, therefore, important," he said adding that it was thus important that CAG's reports are presented in time so as to enable mid-course corrections, if required.