In the backdrop of controversies surrounding significant government decisions, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday said constitutional authorities like the CAG should not fail in holding the government accountable for decisions such as demonetisation, GST and defence purchases.
His remarks came amid Congress twice petitioning the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) for auditing the Rafale deal which it claims is a scam that caused huge loss to the public exchequer.
Kharge, who is also Public Accounts Committee chairman, also made a veiled attack on former CAG Vinod Rai who had computed that the alleged 2G scam led to a presumptive revenue loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.
Addressing the 29th Conference of Accountants General, Kharge pointed to the crisis-hit Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) and supported the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) auditing public private partnership (PPP) projects.
"The public should not be left wondering why constitutional authorities are failing to hold the government accountable to decisions that cause severe economic distress such as demonetization or GST or decisions that involve huge amounts of public money like defence purchases," he said.
"Unless the government is forced to spell out the outcomes when it launches its schemes, no one would be able to hold it accountable. We have seen how governments shift the goalposts, once failures become apparent. For example, during demonetisation, the government kept changing what the objective of the scheme was," said the Congress leader.
"It is time that the government is made accountable for the outcomes of its schemes," he said welcoming the CAG introducing "Outcome Based Audit" under which the auditor will assess the results of government's various policies and scheme.
"There are a few in the government who look upon the CAG as someone who does "post-mortem analysis" and acts as a hindrance to decision making. This should not deter the CAG from holding the government accountable," said Kharge.
"As a constitutional body, the CAG's reports should not be based on presumptions or assumptions that cast aspersions on other public servants. A populist report that seeks to build reputation of one institution by undermining public's faith in another would serve neither," said Kharge whose party had demanded Rai to apologise after a court acquitted all the accused in the 2G case.
He also expressed his reservation over the CAG coming out with hundred reports annually saying most of them suffer from little publicity, unless there is a political interest in a report.
Kharge said new challenges were emerging for the CAG in cases of PPP projects where public money is used to "privatise profits but socialise losses".
"The PAC has always been keen that PPP projects come under the CAG. Recent events with respect to IL&FS or LIC show how PPP models without oversight can put the country's financial system at risk," he added.