Outgoing Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai favours bringing all private-public partnerships (PPPs), Panchayti Raj Institutions and societies getting government funds within the ambit of the CAG. As he prepares to demit office tomorrow after an eventful tenure at the head of the Constitutional financial watchdog, he strongly defends the reports including on 2G spectrum allocation during his term that had triggered a number of controversies and raised the hackles of the government, and bringing in the concept of presumptive loss in audit. He says at no time during the turbulent days the thought of quitting came to him when he was attacked from several quarters. After a five-and-half year tenure in the office, Rai also backed demands for a collegium type of selection for CAG though he was not very sure about the effectiveness of a multi-member body.
Targeted by those in government as exceeding the mandate by going into policy formulations, he makes it clear that by nature audit has an adversarial function and it cannot praise government policies. "All PPPs, PRIs and ULBs (Urban Local Bodies), societies, etc should be brought under the CAG," Rai, who turns 65 tomorrow, told PTI in a wide-ranging interview. Asked whether NGOs taking government aid should be brought under the purview of CAG, he said, "That's right, the special societies." Citing the example of National Rural Health Mission executed by societies getting hundred per cent funds from government, Rai said, the government had requested the CAG to do the audit and they did it. "But probably, it would be more advisable to bring it within the automatic legal mandate of the CAG."
The PPPs which have become the preferred mode for executing infrastructure projects in airports, highways and ports are outside the purview of the CAG audit at present. Only special audits are done where the government makes a request.