CAG demands powers similar to RTI Act
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has been facing undue delays in placing of audit reports in parliament and state legislatures in a timely manner and has demanded special powers to deal with the issue. These magical powers sought for solving the problems in obtaining relevant information for its audits of government finances and decision making are those that are available to a citizen under the Right to Information Act.
The CAG Shashi Kant Sharma has written a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley demanding the powers under the Right to Information (RTI) Act for its auditors to access information. The CAG has also called for inclusion of a penal provision in the existing CAG's powers to make it mandatory for the ministries and departments to furnish information in a time bound manner.
Specifying how delay or denial of data has been causing problems for conducting the audits, in a letter dated June 16, the CAG wrote “We believe amendments to the existing CAG's DPC Act (Duties and Powers Act) have been necessitated due to changes in funding pattern of schemes, projects with increased role envisaged for NGOs and public private partnership projects; difficulties in accessing information and records of the audited entities by auditors and absence of enforcement powers with the CAG.” The major changes sought are:-
· An amendment in the CAG's DPC Act, 1971 has been sought whereby a government official may be directed to appear before a designated CAG officer bearing in mind the audit queries raised.
· Directions to the government officials to provide the signed copies of all minutes related to government decisions
· To impose a time limit for production of records to the auditors.
A draft bill for amending the CAG's DPC Act was submitted to the FM first in November 2009 which was subsequently revised in February 2011 but the same is pending. If the institution of CAG seeks the powers available to an ordinary citizen under the RTI Act, it shows the tremendous respect it has for the Act.