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CAG seeks govt nod to audit regulatory decisions
May, 19th 2010

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has asked the government to allow it to oversee decisions taken by regulators that do not have tribunals to listen to appeals against their verdicts.

CAG, which audits the governments receipts and expenditures, made the request as part of several suggestions in a draft Bill submitted to the finance ministry, comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai said.

If allowed, regulators such as the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board could come under its ambit.

There are at least 15 of them, Rai said. If the government agrees, CAG could take a view on their pricing decisions and say if their policy decisions were right or wrongas it does for the ministries and government departments it audits.

CAG would, however, not be able to oversee regulators such as the Securities Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Rai clarified. Sebi has a Securities Appellate Tribunal.

But D. Swarup, a former chairman of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), said CAG already has jurisdiction over regulators.

CAG can audit regulators even now and, therefore, is not handicapped for want of a mandate. In fact, the Securities Appellate Tribunal is not just an appellate tribunal for Sebi but also for PFRDA, and talks are on to make it a multidisciplinary appellate tribunal in the form of the Financial Securities Appellate Tribunal, Swarup said.

Explaining his request, Rai said several new regulators, whose decisions require supervision, have come up. We have said that a regulators regulators must come under CAGs purview.

CAG has steadily extended its influence since Rai took over two years ago, asking for access to the accounts of non-governmental organizations and groups that distribute government funds, as well as the books of special purpose vehicles set up by private firms to operate infrastructure projects.

The draft Bill also says government departments must be obliged to respond to its queries within 30 days.

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