Editorial

Paper trail

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/28/2018 12:42:16 PM IST

 All said and done, annual reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for the period ending March 31,2017 has raised the issue of Utilisation Certificate(UC) for various projects in Nagaland totalling an amount of Rs.909.61 crore. The CAG report that was tabled in the assembly for the said period revealed that 286 UCs involving an aggregate amount of Rs. 909.61 crore was pending for submission even after a lapse of one to six years from various departments. The CAG report also revealed 25 cases of misappropriation, loss etc. involving government money amounting to Rs. 230.3 crore up to March 31, 2017 and on which final action was pending. The CAG also detected various anomalies in government departments such as lack of transparency in awarding works, inadmissible payment, infructuous expenditure, evasion of tax, avoidable expenditure. These reports/observations/detections are expected to spur action on the part of the state government. In practise, the house committee tasked with the responsibility of seeking information from the departments, is also empowered to order appropriate action or remedy. The CAG is an essential ingredient of governance as it acts as a watchdog over the finance and expenditures of the government and to detect any irregularities or abuse. The important point to note is that irregularities have to be taken serious note of and that the state government has to ensure there is accountability within its system. It will be in the greater interest of the system and the governed, if consequent actions taken over the reports of CAG are tabled in the house. Again if the house committee finds some reports of the CAG inconsistent with facts, then even those have to be tabled. This is the light of facts which show that CAG has also not been able to detect or report on some cases of alleged irregularities or lapses in some government departments. Be that as it may, even the CAG has to do some self inspection rather than introspection on this matter. This is not to paint the CAG as inefficient, unfair or incompetent but to be reminded that the important audit institution may sometimes err. This is more than highlighted in the functioning of the CAG of India under Vinod Rai who had waged a one-man war against the UPA government during his tenure. Rai became the CAG and vice versa. He was hailed as a crusader against corruption and his notional calculations on the alleged 2G scam dubbed as the fingerprints of the loot of the century. He also questioned the policy decisions of the then government. The (mis)calculations of the notional loss by CAG under Rai was like a battering ram used by the then opposition BJP and India Against Corruption now known as Aam Admi Party, particularly its chief Arvind Kejriwal. After causing the biggest political damage on the UPA by his notional calculations, Rai’s report indicting several then ministers and government functionaries has not been able to stand legal scrutiny even under a hostile anti-Congress/UPA environment. None of the accused are in jail but let off when the charges were dismissed by the court. But the damage has been done. Thus, the audit undertaken by the CAG needs to be vetted by actual facts and not notional presumptions of wrongdoing. This is one reason why there is some who take CAG Reports with a pinch of salt.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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