House panel calls in CAG officials: Explain audit report delays

A Committee of Parliament tasked with examining all papers laid on the table of the House has for the first time summoned the national auditor to explain the “unreasonable delays” in submitting annual reports and audited accounts.

Officials of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) will appear before the Committee on Papers Laid (Lok Sabha) on the Table on Monday to discuss ways to ensure compliance from the more than 1,000 autonomous bodies, Public Sector Units (PSUs) under various ministries, which have not submitted their accounts in time.

“We have called the CAG, and it is sending its officials to find ways to facilitate various autonomous bodies that are availing grants from the consolidated fund of the Government of India to have their accounts audited in time so that the people of this country know how their money is spent by these bodies,” Ritesh Pandey, Committee chairman, told The Indian Express.

“As per records, there is no precedent regarding the working of this Committee (on Papers Laid) when the CAG has been called to inquire into the delays by ministries/ PSUs/ autonomous bodies etc., while clarifying audit objections. I do not think any other Parliamentary Committee other than the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has ever summoned the CAG,” Pandey, the BSP MP from Ambedkar Nagar, said.

The PAC is the oldest Parliamentary Committee, and is tasked with scrutinising the appropriation accounts of the Government of India and the reports of the CAG thereon.

Deputy CAGs G Vishwanathan and Rakesh Mohan, DG-Commercial Ritika Bhatia, DG-Parliamentary Committees Shailendra Vikram Singh, Principal Director-ABs Nameeta Prasad, and DG of Audit Manish Kumar will appear before the committee on Monday.

Being like a mini Parliament, a Parliamentary Committee has the power to call representatives of any ministry/ department/ organisation/ PSU, and even autonomous organizations to get information, Pandey said.

The Committee on Papers Laid has been summoning representatives of organisations, and their administrative ministries and departments, who have not laid their papers on time, and giving directions and suggestions, and making observations and recommendations.

In the course of these discussions, the Committee has found that some of these bodies were “ignorant, some were not interested while some bodies blamed the C&AG for not sending the auditors in time”. Pandey had a meeting with CAG Girish Chandra Murmu, who expressed willingness to work with the panel to expedite the process.

“The CAG was kind enough to extend its support to chalk out ways to get the auditing done and see that the papers are laid on the table of both the Houses in time,” Pandey said.

The Committee has suggested that ministries should create a dashboard for each autonomous body that is receiving funds or grants from the Consolidated Fund of India to show accounting at every step, so that the required process can be completed on time.

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