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Comptroller & Auditor General wants regulators
April, 12th 2010

Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India has sought significant changes in the way it functions, including bringing regulators across sectors under its audit scrutiny.

Regulators such as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), etc, have been kept fully or partially out of the audit mandate of CAG through their respective Acts, CAG, Vinod Rai, said at the valedictory function of the 25th Conference of Accountants General on Friday.

CAG has also stressed the need for repealing and replacing the existing CAGs (duties, powers and conditions of service) Act, 1971 with a new Act which directly addresses the constraints faced by us.

Rai pointed out that supreme audit institutions worldwide have had to redefine their mandate to be in tune with the complexity in governance. This is the need of the hour in our country as well, he said.

Finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, in his address, said, The CAG proposals are under active consideration of the government. Mukherjee added that appropriate action would be taken on the recommendations.

Raising the concern of the regulators not being under its purview, CAG said, While the expenditure of these bodies may not be large, the impact of their decisions has extremely large fiduciary or other impact. Excluding these organisations from CAGs audit weakens Parliamentary oversight on them.

The supreme auditor of the country also pointed out that denial of timely and complete access to records posed a huge problem for CAG.

Even where the government has entrusted certain audits to us such as ascertaining the capital expenditure being incurred by contractors in development projects awarded under New
Exploration Licensing Policy, it has taken over 18 months for us to access the records of the private operators, Rai said.

In the case of the telecom sector, CAG is yet to access the records of the private telecom companies, despite the government requesting for the audit, Rai said.

While the FM said that the government would consider the suggestions, he said that he was yet to see the CAG reference on the 2G telecom controversy. In a preliminary inquiry, CAG is learnt to have asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to explain why and how the government had to lose revenue worth Rs 26,000 crore during the 2G licence and spectrum allocation to telcos recently.

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