PM hints at CAG role in PPP projects

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 18 2010, 04:56am hrs
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday urged the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to play a leading role in ensuring that public private partnership (PPP) projects that are increasingly in vogue in diverse areas produce the intended results.

Speaking at a function here to mark 150 years of existence of the top public auditor, Singh said there was a need to improve the structure of PPP arrangements to ensure that they were transparent. It was important that PPP projects ensured adequate competitiveness and safeguarded public interest.

On similar lines, President Pratibha Patil said, It is necessary to assess whether (PPP) projects are indeed, in public interest. As of now, it is still a grey area for public auditors. So, auditors should gain expertise for preparing reviews on issues relating to infrastructure projects under the PPP mode, which may involve a change in audit methodology and approaches.

There are PPP projects that have time over-runs or remain incomplete or abandoned halfway, which deprive the nation of the full benefits of investment.

Singh said the reports of the CAG were being taken very seriously by the media, the public, government and Parliament so it casted a huge responsibility on the institution to ensure that its reports were accurate, balanced and fair.

There is a very thin line between fair criticism and fault finding, between hazarding a guess and making a reasonable estimate, between a bonafide genuine error and a deliberate mistake. As an important watchdog in our democracy, it falls upon this institution to distinguish between wrong-doing and genuine errors, to appreciate the context and circumstances of decision making processes. This requires a very high degree of professional skill and competence, the Prime Minister said.