New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s output fell by nearly 75 per cent in the last few years, a new report has revealed, raising concerns about the CAG’s supervision of the Narendra Modi government’s fiscal accountability.
According to a response to an RTI filed by The New Indian Express, India’s financial watchdog brought out 14 reports related to the central government ministries and departments in 2020 as compared to 55 in 2015 — a fall of 74.5 per cent.
The CAG’s defence audit reports tabled in the Parliament fell from eight in 2017 to zero last year, The New Indian Express report said. Six defence audit reports were tabled in 2015.
In the case of railway audit, five reports were tabled in 2017 and three in 2020. In 2015, six railway audit reports had been tabled, the report said.
Over the last decade, the CAG’s peak output was seen in 2015 — a year after the Modi government took office.
In the three years before 2014, under the Manmohan Singh government, the CAG filed 39 reports in 2011, 26 in 2012 and 34 in 2013. In 2014, this figure went up to 37 before hitting the peak in 2015 at 55. Over the next five years, the number saw a sharp dip — 42, 45, 23, 21 and 14, respectively, the report added.
ThePrint reached Anurag Deepak, additional deputy CAG, finance and communication, for a comment via calls but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
‘Expected to promote transparency’
The Comptroller and Auditor General is an authority established by the Constitution of India and is independent of the central government’s influence. The CAG is appointed by the President.
In its 2019-20 performance report, the CAG said it is the “supreme audit institution of India and is expected to promote financial accountability and transparency in the affairs of the audited entities”.
The agency audits and checks all state and central government accounts. Further, it keeps a check on accounts of companies owned and financed by the government. It submits its report to parliamentary panels, which scrutinise them for wrongdoing and debate remedial action.
The CAG had come into spotlight before the Modi government came in, with its reports on 2G auction, coal block auction, Adarsh Housing Society and Commonwealth Games of 2010 shining a light on the alleged corruption under the previous United Progressive Alliance government. The CAG reports are widely believed to have dented the image of the UPA regime and bringing it down in the 2014 general elections.
Congress accuses govt of destroying India’s institutions
Speaking to ThePrint on the latest report, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera accused the Modi government of destroying India’s democratic institutions.
“This is yet another example of how the Modi government has not just destroyed the robust economy of India… it is out to destroy the very pillars of answerability that have kept our democracy in place,” he said.
“One after the other, we see the collapse of institutions,” Khera added.
(Editing by Amit Upadhyaya)