Even as major telecom companies have complained to the government about the requirement to furnish accounts to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the CAG itself has upped the ante.
After raising the issue first in his valedictory address at the conference of Auditor Generals earlier this month, CAG Vinod Rai has now written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for all regulatory bodies, including the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), to be brought under its auditing framework.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Rai explained the rationale for the move. By agreeing to no audit by the CAG the government is actually distancing itself from regulatory bodies. he pointed out. Regulatory bodies are not out of the system of government and we have to ensure that the oversight role of Parliament is not short-circuited.
On April 10, Rai had said in his speech that while the expenditure of these bodies might not be large, the implications of their decisions had extremely large fiduciary impact. Excluding these organisations from CAGs audit weakened Parliaments oversight of them, he had said.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, when questioned about the CAGs proposal, had said it was under active consideration.