Narayanasamy speaks of a 3-member CAG, only to retract

Narayanasamy speaks of a 3-member CAG, only to retract

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V Narayanasamy on Sunday embarrassed the government by inadvertently disclosing about a move to make the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), headed by one person, into a multi-member body.

Naranayasamy’s remark, which came during the course of an interview to PTI, is being interpreted as an attempt to interfere into the premier audit body's authority and independence.

Though the Shunglu Committee report had recommended converting the CAG into a multi-member body, this is the first time that a minister has publicly revealed the plan.

The government has been critical of the CAG ever since the constitutional body came out with its audit report on the allocation of 2 G spectrum pegging a notional loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Later, the CAG came up with other scams on CWG 2010, coalgate and KG Basin oil rig given to Reliance Industries.

After the minister’s interview started receiving strong protest from Opposition parties and civil society, Narayanasamy rushed to deny the story claiming PTI misquoted him.

The news agency, however, said it stood by its report, contending that the minister had stated about the government plan to appoint more members in the CAG as suggested by the Shunglu panel the CWG.

"It is under active consideration. The government is actively considering it," Narayanasamy told PTI on a question on Shunglu's recommendation to make changes in the CAG.
He also emphasised that, when a decision is taken, “I will let you know”.

Shunglu had suggested: "A three-member body would obtain greater transparency in its operation. One member should possess professional accounting qualifications, Chartered Accountant or its equivalent".

Reiterating the UPA government’s jibe against the country’s highest audit body, the minister said the CAG has become "more impatient" and he wants that all constitutional bodies to work within their parameters.

Apparently referring to comments made by incumbent CAG Vinod Rai on various occasions, the PTI quoted minister; "of late I have found, the CAG is making remarks which are unwarranted. According to me, it is unwarranted and unnecessary. I think, nowadays he (Rai) has become more impatient. That is what I feel from my side".

Reacting to Narayanasamy's remarks, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal said government's move on the CAG will weaken Constitutional bodies.

BJP leader Yashwant Sinha attacked the proposal as a "very bad idea" and also "unconstitutional".

Making a distinction between the Election Commission and the CAG, he said the official auditor cannot be treated like a commission and cannot be made a multi-member body.
"It's a very, very bad idea. And I agree it is in order to muzzle the present incumbent and weaken the institution. They are out to destroy the institution of CAG," Sinha said.

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