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Why not appoint us as super regulator, asks CAG
May, 19th 2010

The countrys supreme auditor has pitched itself as a super regulator of sorts, amid the din generated by an open spat between insurance and
stock market regulators.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has sought greater powers to look into the functioning of over a dozen regulators, whose decisions do not fall under the direct oversight of any other body.

We have said that regulators must also be within the overview of the CAG, Vinod Rai said, at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the National Academy of Audit & Accounts held in Shimla.

The CAGs proposal to expand its oversight forms part of its suggestions made in the draft Bill governing the role and function of the CAG. The Bill is currently with the finance ministry.

If the proposal is accepted by the government, regulators such as the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) and Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) could come under the direct oversight of the CAG.

In a recent audit of the governments accounts for 2008-09, the CAG had criticised the accounting practices followed by some regulators.

It had pulled up five regulators including market watchdog SEBI and insurance regulator IRDA for maintaining their Rs 1,747 crore surplus funds outside the government accounts at the end of 2008-09 in violation of constitutional provisions.

Though the regulators are supposed to be independent, the CAG feels they have to be responsible to someone.

Regulators are the creation of the government. They are bodies distanced from the government but their basic function is derived from the government, said Rai adding that his office should be allowed to look into the functioning of regulators that do not have an appellate authority or a quasi-judicial body where their decisions can be challenged.

The CAGs oversight may see it question regulators on their policy decisions as also on key matters like pricing, Mr Rai explained, in response to media queries on the subject.

The proposal, however, excludes the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), which has an appellate forum in Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT).The finance ministry is debating on a framework for the proposed Financial Stability and Development Council that could include a mandate to coordinate the functioning of the finical sector regulators.

Stock market watchdog Sebi and insurance regulator IRDA are currently locked in a dispute over regulating unit-linked plans offered by insurance companies.

The CAG said it would submit to Parliament its audit reports on Reliance Industries KG-D6 gas basin, Cairn Energys Barmer projects and Panna Mukta and Tapti projects of British Gas.

Mr Rai said all necessary documents pertaining to the audit have been made available to the CAG office and that all concerned parties were co-operating on the matter.

He said the CAG will wrap up its report on the audit of the telecom companies within 4-5 months. The CAG had taken on audit of the books of Bharti Airtel, Reliance, Tata, Vodafone and BSNL for 2009-10 to see if their revenue sharing pattern with the government was in order.

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