“Surprised” at former FM’s statement on letter on audit of PPP projects, ex-CAG tells Governance Now
Shreerupa Mitra-Jha | September 17, 2014
Former comptroller and auditor general (CAG) of India Vinod Rai has denied writing any letter to former finance minister P Chidambaram on audit of public-private partnership (PPP) projects coming under the CAG’s purview.
In a statement issued on Tuesday (September 16), Chidambaram said, "I have read some interviews given by Vinod Rai where he has remarked that letters written by him to Dr Manmohan Singh, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and me on the subject of audit of PPP projects did not receive any response…. (But) I do not recall any letter addressed to me by the CAG on the subject. I have since confirmed that no letter was addressed to me.”
But Rai today told Governance Now: “I don’t think I have said anywhere that I have written to Mr Chidambaram. I was surprised when I saw the statement [of Chidambaram] today. In September 2009, we made a presentation to Mr Pranab Mukherjee (then finance minister) on the fact that our Audit Act is of 1971. There was no such thing as PPP or the 73rd or 74th amendment.”
He said the panchayati raj institutions “came much later”, while the special societies for NRHM were “non-existent”. “So he [Pranab Mukherjee] immediately said we should write to him and suggest the amends that we need to make. In November 2009, I wrote to him [Mukherjee] on the amendments [for the Audit Act]. In fact, we did not suggest amends but a repealing of the [Audit] Act. They got back to us suggesting that [the repealing] would be a long-drawn process [and asked us] to suggest some amends.
“In 2010, we suggested that, too. So it [the issue of PPP audit] is part of that. I don’t recall personally writing to Mr Chidambaram. He [Chidambaram] says he has verified, and I was looking for what statement of mine Mr Chidambaram has referred to. Yes, I have written to Mr Mukherjee originally for the repealing, and then amendments. If a reminder has gone to him [Chidambaram], then I do not know.”
Rai’s book Not Just An Accountant, which reveals purported scams and financial transgressions during his innings as the 11th CAG from 2008 till his retirement in May 2013, has ruffled many a feather in the Congress. The book will be launched today.
The exclusive interview with Rai will appear in the October 1-15 issue of Governance Now.
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