Banks Board Bureau chief and former CAG Vinod Rai on Tuesday defended government officials going on private trips at the tax payers’ expense, suggesting that it was one of the perks of being in the civil service.
Getting the government to foot the bill for private visits is a rampant practice in the civil services. This is done by finding some official reason to travel to the city, usually by fixing up meetings with someone in the state government.
Rai, however, might be the first civil servant to defend this misuse of power in public. “So what! I mean, really so what. ... What other facility or perk does a government give me?” said Rai.
It was under Rai’s watch that the auditing body Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had reported on the 2G telecom spectrum and coal block allocation scandals. After retirement, Rai authored a book: The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper - Not Just an Accountant, and was appointed to head the Banks Board Bureau in February this year.
“I mean a colleague’s daughter was getting married and I can’t afford to buy an airline ticket... certainly not when I was in the job... I created a duty and went there, attended the wedding also incidentally and came back and you are wasting your time looking at my travel allowance bill,” he said to illustrate his point.
Rai wasn’t speaking at a lecture in context of a specific case but making the broader point that vigilance officials should overlook smaller transgressions and invest its energies in major cases.