Instead of challenging CAG, act on its advice
By The New Indian Express
18th August 2012 12:30 AM
The much-awaited reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on allocation of coal blocks, ultra-mega power projects and Delhi International Airport, were tabled by the government in Rajya Sabha on Friday. Substantially maintaining the stand taken by it in its ‘draft’ reports, the CAG has found that the government allocated coal blocks, power projects and land for the airport at a fraction of market prices, potentially causing the state exchequer astronomical sums by way of revenue losses. The losses due to the ‘flawed’ policy on coal block allocations between 2005 and 2009 have been pegged at `1.86 lakh-crore, making it bigger than the 2G scam that has put former Telecom minister in the dock and resulted in the Supreme Court scrapping all telecom licences.
Since the coal ministry was directly under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the relevant period, the Opposition has expectedly demanded an explanation from Singh and an independent probe. On the other hand, the government seems to have opted for the familiar tactic that it unsuccessfully tried while dealing with the CAG’s report on the 2G scam. It has challenged the authenticity and credibility of the reports, questioning the procedure adopted by the CAG as well as its conclusions.
Whatever their merit, coming after the Commonwealth Games and 2G scams, the CAG’s latest reports will cause further erosion of government’s credibility. It is clear that the government’s inability to take timely and credible measures to deal with administrative lapses has led to the growth of crony capitalism.
It is time the prime minister put in place a mechanism that does not allow such arbitrary use of government’s authority. More important, instead of shooting the messenger, the government must address the issues that have been raised. Rather than challenging the constitutional office of the CAG, it must show its sincerity by accepting the recommendations of the audit reports and take immediate follow-up action.
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