Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee complimented the role of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in setting up checks and balances on the use of public resources and said the government plans to bring in appropriate changes to give a greater role to the auditor and make it more "effective."
"The government is working on proposals for amendments to CAG (DPC) Act, 1971 that will make the institution of the CAG more effective in dealing with the new mechanisms of administration," Mukherjee said in his address on the 150th anniversary of the institution.
Mukherjee also underlined the need for expanding the role of the auditor in making public transactions and systems more transparent.
"Given CAG's audit mandate, extending across all agencies at the Centre, state and local levels I urge you to become catalysts of process re-engineering. Identify processes that need to be extinguished and guide the departments in adopting best practices from India and abroad," Mukherjee said."
The finance minister's statement assumes importance in wake of the reported comments by some government officials that CAG was overstepping its mandate, particularly in the 2G spectrum case where the auditor had pegged the upper-end of the loss of revenue to the exchequer at R1.76 lakh crore.
"Institutions and individuals, ... while reviewing the work of others, can provide invaluable guidance in improvement of processes ... and attain greater efficiency. We should all be cautious in determining malafide intent as distinct from bonafide errors of judgment or divergent opinions on policy options," Mukherjee added.
Senior BJP leader and chairman of parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Murli Manohar Joshi praised Mukherjee for his defence of the government's official auditor and the PAC. "I congratulate the finance minister for your support and believe that you will continue to support these institutions. They are highly dependent on you for the principle of transparency," Joshi said.