Journal of Government Audit and Accounts

XXIXth Accountants General Conference, 2018

Welcome Speech by Comptroller & Auditor General of India

Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji, Hon’ble Chairman PAC, my distinguished predecessors Shri T. N. Chaturvedi, Shri V. K. Shunglu, Shri Vinod Rai, Shri Shashi Kant Sharma, Shri V. N. Kaul, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and other senior officers of the Government, my colleagues of the audit and accounts fraternity, ladies and gentlemen:

It is an honour and privilege for me to welcome all of you on behalf of our 48000 strong family to this inaugural function of the 29th Conference of Accountants General....

We are very grateful to honourable Rashtrapati Ji for having agreed to inaugurate this conference. Sir, we are privileged to have you in our amidst today.

We are grateful to the Chairman, Public Accounts Committee Prof. Mallikarjun Kharge for his presence here today. Sir, the PAC has been a constant source of strength to our organisation and we are honoured to have you with us at his function.

We are also grateful for the distinguished presence of my predecessors and of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

Sir, we are a 158 year old organisation and the first AG of India was appointed in 1860. The father of the Constitution, Sir, recognised the value of this institution and its independence. Indeed, Dr. Ambedkar said in his presentation to the constituent assembly “I am of the opinion that this dignitary is probably the most important officer of the Constitution of India. He is the one man who is going to see about that the expenses voted by Parliament are not exceeded, or varied from what has been laid down by what is called the Appropriation Act. If this functionary is to carry out his duties, which I submit, are far more important than even of the judiciary and servants of the Supreme Court he should have been certainly as independent as the judiciary. But comparing the articles about the Supreme Court and the articles relating to Auditor General, I cannot help saying that we have not given him the same independence which we have given to the judiciary although I personally feel that he ought to have far greater independence than the Judiciary itself.”

President Rajendra Prasad in 1954 echoed the same view: “At the present moment when the Government is incurring a huge expenditure on so many welfare projects it is essential that every Rupee that we spend is properly accounted for. This important task, I am afraid a task not always pleasant, devolves upon the Comptroller and Auditor General and his office. In accordance with the powers vested in him, he has to carry out these functions without fear or favour in the larger interest of the nation.”

Accordingly, Sir, our motto is लोकहितार्थ सत्यनिष्ठा or Dedicated to Truth in Public Interest.

Sir, this organisation has lived up, in a substantial measure, to the vision and expectations of the founding fathers of the Constitution. Sir, we are therefore constantly reviewing our systems and approaches to improve audit effectiveness in the new and changing paradigms of governance. In fact, this conference of Accountants General is organized every two years since 1955 for this precise reason - to reflect on the changes happening in the governance structure and what changes and improvements are required in our own practices to audit that expenditure and also audit the outcomes.

Sir, this conference aegis the context of changes that IT is bringing about to our world. Information Technology touches upon every aspect of our life today whether business, commerce, entertainment, reading, booking tickets – any activity that we do or conduct is somehow connected to the Information Technology either directly or indirectly. There is hardly any human activity left untouched by this technology, including of course, how the Government governs us and we, the citizens, are governed.

Government’s vision of a digital India will further catalyse this transition. This is both the challenge and an opportunity for us in the Audit & Accounts Department. The challenges are that we have to now learn to audit IT systems for their safety, security, robustness and auditability. We also have to enhance our systems & skills to conduct audit in IT environments, using IT tools. The opportunity of course is that it solves the problem of limiting ourselves only to test audit. If we can ensure that all transactions of Government are on an IT platform and are non-repudiable then, we can actually conduct audit of the 100 per cent of the transactions and move towards a goal that we have always aspired for, which is, Assurance, which is a dream of course for every company, even the UN who we audit, seeks assurance and we ought to, at some stage, be able to provide it to the Government.

Hence, Sir, the theme of this Conference: Auditing in an IT Environment. We need the blessings of all of you, and guidance, in moving in this direction, in your different roles in Parliament.

I once again welcome the Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji and thank him for having spared his valuable time to be with us. I also thank Hon’ble Chairman Public Accounts Committee for gracing this occasion. I welcome once again and thank all the guests and members of the media on behalf of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department and my own behalf.

Jai Hind.

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