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Centre has put the entire country in trouble without a clear-cut vaccination policy

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on May 18, 2021

The Government has failed to act towards restoring economic, social and political normalcy, says Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

 

Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has written to Speaker Om Birla requesting him to allow his panel to review the Centre’s vaccination policy. In an interview with BusinessLine, he told that the Centre lacks a clear-cut strategy when the entire country is in turmoil over Covid 19 and economic recession. Excerpts:

There is a demand from your colleagues in PAC that the Comptroller and Auditor General should conduct a special audit of the vaccination drive. What is your view on this?

Conducting a special audit is the mandate of the CAG. We simply draw the attention of the CAG for a scrutiny of an issue.

We do also interact with the concerned audit officer, discuss the audit observations of the CAG to reach a conclusion.

Here, in the issue of vaccination, I proposed to the Speaker to allow us to take up a discussion as a special case. Entire country is suffering from this crisis.

We cannot shirk our responsibilities at such an extraordinary situation where the Centre has put the entire country in trouble without a clear-cut policy, PAC needs to look at it seriously. It is our responsibility to tell the government that they should sort out the problems in vaccination. I thought it is prudent to bring the attention of Speaker on this issue.

I haven’t got a permission to hold the meeting as yet. If he gives permission, we will interact with all stakeholders and experts to draw a conclusion that will help the Centre to address this crisis. PAC is entrusted with scrutinising each and every government expenses.

Every medical expert is of the opinion that India cannot stand another wave without vaccination. Government was suffering from complacency. Before doing anything, they are eager to take credit.

Their greed for credit brought the country to such a crisis. They ignored warning from various corners.

The Centre neglected the Covid crisis. We are the victims of this ignorance and indifference.

What type of an audit do you want on the vaccination drive? There’s a demand that PM Cares Fund must also be audited...

Government is playing hide and seek with the PM Cares Fund. We have been asking the Centre to make it transparent. People are entitled to know the truth. The fund collected by the PM Cares are mostly from PSUs.

They had to contribute to this private fund as they were coerced and compelled to fill this fund. They disbursed the money for purchase of various equipment without any transparency.

Only those vendors who are close to the government could win the tenders. Quality was compromised. Even ventilators, bought from this fund, are not functional. CAG must conduct a performance audit of PM Cares and all other Covid related purchases and decisions. The erring people must be made liable to the country.

PAC has also been looking at the impact of lockdown on the economy.

We went into recession after the first lockdown with a negative growth of -23 per cent. The government announced various measures to revive the economy, but the growth is still negative.

But the Centre is hell-bent upon maintaining fiscal targets. This is nothing but fiscal fundamentaliam. This should not be the attitude of a Government at the time of a pandemic. Heavens wouldn’t have fallen if fiscal deficit increased.

The Centre should have provided adequate succour to people.

Over 14 crore jobs were lost. Instead of ensuring social security, the Centre incentivised big corporations by bringing farm laws and labour codes.

The Centre is acting as the machinery of repression. The priority should have been to restore economic, social and political normalcy. This Government acted to the contrary.

They are inviting trouble. This is a government purposeless behemoth where only one person can think, decide and act.

Published on May 18, 2021

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