Bangalore International Centre had arranged a Talk on “Public Accountability and the role of mandated Accounting Authorities” by Mr. S. Prabhu, IAAS, Principal Accountant General (A&E), on Tuesday, 7th August, 2012 at 6:30 pm. The talk was moderated by Dr. Samuel Paul, Founder and Former Chairperson, Public Affairs Centre, Bangalore.
In a comprehensive and wide-ranging talk, Mr. Prabhu highlighted the fact the Constitution specifically mandates the Comptroller and Auditor General to ensure public accountability on the part of the Union and the State Governments and assigns a very important and independent responsibility to discharge the responsibilities without fear or favour. As an auditor of the transactions and accounts of the Central and State Governments, the CAG acts as the watchdog and conscience keeper of the nation. Mr. Prabhu listed the various kinds of audits conducted by the CAG, viz., (a) Regulatory Audit (dealing with compliance), (b) Financial Statement Audit (dealing with Certification and Propriety), (c) Performance Audit, and (d) Tax Audit (dealing with Revenue) and explained how these are conducted. He pointed out that, as of now, CAG does not have the mandate to look at substantial amount of expenditure being made through parallel channels, such as Public- Private- Partnerships, NGOs and Panchayati Raj Institutions and that several important regulatory bodies, like TRAI and PNGRB have been kept outside the audit mandate of CAG. Mr. Prabhu stressed the fact that often the unbiased approach of CAG leads to misunderstandings about its role and allegations about its “activism”. He felt that people at large however have appreciated the role of CAG in uncovering several scams, like Bofors, 2G Spectrum, Krishna-Godavari basin, Commonwealth Games etc. In the ultimate analysis, the objective of the CAG is to ensure good governance and transparency in transactions. Mr. Prabhu had no doubts that an active Civil Society could play a major role in contributing to this objective.
It was an absorbing talk, adroitly moderated by Prof. Samuel Paul.