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Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai today said key government bodies such as Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and even the proposed Lokpal should be given Constitutional backing to enable them to function independently and effectively.
“We have the remarkable example of Lokpal...He will have to be guaranteed constitutional authority to function independently. CBI is not independent of executive. CVC is another much feared, much maligned, but still a statutory body. If you really want them to deliver you must take the risk and courage to make them Constitutional bodies,” Rai said at a session on Inclusive Governance at the World Economic Forum.
CBI and CVC are not independent authorities and that was why people write about them as “handmade of government”, he said, adding “if Lokpal is expected to function with autonomy and total independence you will have to guarantee a constitutional mandate”.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which is a constitutional body, has brought to light various corruption-related issues with regard to allocation of 2G spectrum, coal blocks, conduct of Commonwealth Games, etc. These reports, however, had evoked sharp reaction from the government.
The CAG is independent of the executive and once appointed for six years, it cannot be removed by the government. After demitting office, the CAG is ineligible for any further employment with the government. Heads of other bodies can be removed by the government.
Rai pitched for introducing an element of transparency in the functioning of companies too, and said the onus of bringing about the change was not only on the government but also on citizens, citizen groups and the media. He admitted that corruption cannot be completely eradicated, but cronyism and nepotism could be brought down.
“Why do we leave it to the government alone to introduce probity, transparency, accountability? Citizen groups must empower themselves and ensure that government officials live in glass houses and the transparency applies to the private sector too,” Rai said.
He said that today both bureaucrats and politicians are conscious of the fact that they would be accountable for every decision they take. He admitted that the brazenness with which decisions were being taken was appalling, but things have started changing.
Asked about the questions being raised by some government departments on CAG reports, Rai said, “Has anybody falted us on our facts? They have only talked about our computations, not on our facts. In our reports we say these are debatable.”
Talking about social sector schemes, the CAG said the government has done very well in building up models of delivery for programmes but loopholes are not plugged.
Asian Development Bank Managing Director General Rajat Nag said there are many bureaucrats who are honest and we have to find a way to protect them. “We are at an inflection point where everybody is asking for change, for improvement,” he said.
Kris Gopalakrishnan, Executive Co-Chairman, Infosys said companies needed to start a change at their level but in a democracy it was vital to work through the political system too. Eicher Motors Managing Director Siddhartha Lal also admitted that as there is more transparency and efforts are made from the companies’ side the country will change. n