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Need for radical thinking while auditing government companies: Arun Jaitley

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said some radical thinking is needed on the part of the Comptroller and Auditor General while auditing government companies as they are now expected to take quick decisions to compete with private sector firms.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2018 00:07 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Arun Jaitley,CAG,audit
Arun Jaitley said the government companies get audited by the CAG and follow a prescribed procedure for tenders and hiring employees, while the private sector companies go for campus hiring. Private sector enjoys flexibility. (HT/File Photo)

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said some radical thinking is needed on the part of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) while auditing government companies as they are now expected to take quick decisions to compete with their private sector firms. He also emphasised on the need for improvement in the public discourse underlining a need to make it rise above propaganda.

Jaitley said the government companies get audited by the CAG and follow a prescribed procedure for tenders and hiring employees, while the private sector companies go for campus hiring. Private sector enjoys flexibility.

Making a case for radical thinking and changing of mindspace on part of the CAG while looking into the accounts of the public sector companies, the finance minister in his concluding address to the two-day 29th Accountants General Conference said: “We still have not paid enough attention to this chaining of the public sector to the legal regime that we have done, particularly in sectors where there is competition. And therefore, this impacts on their performance, this impacts on the timetable, whereas the private sector is free from this. If we want them to exist, survive, and survive with full financial strength then how do we allow them a level playing field”.

The minister recalled how before 1991 some of these public sector companies worked in fields they had full monopoly. Now it’s not the case and but they still follow rules of pre-1991 era. The CAG, government, and judiciary need to appreciate the competitive environment prevailing now.

“Therefore, these situations... will require a more radical thinking and I am sure in your future deliberations, this is one area which will occupy your mindspace,” Jaitley said.

In the inaugural session on Wednesday, Public Accounts Committee chairman Mallikarjun Kharge had criticised the government for changing goal posts on schemes like demonetisation.

Addressing the criticism, the minister said there was a need to improve the public discourse and it should rise above the propaganda.

He said the implementation of Goods and Services Tax checked tax evasion and the demonetaisation brought the money from outside the system to inside the system. It has led to formalization of the economy.

He added that the number of direct taxpayers is expected to double to 7.6 crore during the five-year term of the present government due to initiatives like rationalisation of tax structure, lowering of rates and anti-black money measures.

“We are finding 15-20 per cent gradual increase in the tax collections every year,” he said.

He said the number of direct taxpayers was 3.8 crore when the Modi-led government took office in May 2014. It’s already 6.86 crore last year, which is the fourth year and by the end of fifth year it will be something close to 7.6 crore or 7.5 crore.

In his speech in the valedictory function, CAG Rajiv Mehrishi said while auditing they want to tell the government what works and what doesn’t work in implementation of government schemes. They even try to tell the government why a particular thing didn’t work so that it can be fixed. “We want to give systemic findings, not discrete faults/errors which are episodic in nature,” said Mehrishi in his address. He also pointed out the “indifferent” record keeping practises in the government which makes their job difficult.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 23:43 IST