Millennium Post

CAG audit must be made mandatory

With the 2G spectrum auction vindicating the CAG figures on the loss to the government exchequer in the telecom scam, it is obvious that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India is the last bastion of transparency and accountability of the balance sheet, as far as Indian public and private sector companies are concerned. The central auditory body is the only reliable organisation that can be trusted with impartial and objective handling of accounts in a situation where corruption has become the order of the day. Given  that the 2G spectrum scam resulted in a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the public exchequer and the coal block allocation scam stands at Rs 1.8 lakh crore at least, it is obvious that CAG figures, now reinstated, were spot on about the net loss, which the union government, including the telecom minister, kept disparaging as a notional loss, with no real impact in the actual spectrum sale. But the former CAG Vinod Rai, under whose aegis the audits were conducted, maintained that global norms of transparency and unbiased allocation to the highest bidder after having floated a properly advertised tender, were the reasons behind the audit, and the loss accrued was real, not just presumptive. Moreover, the CAG also held that its role was not to comment on policy formation but on checking the balance sheet and whether public and private sector units, particularly in public-private-partnership (PPPs), were not exploiting or discriminating against one or the other and sacrificing greater common good in the interests of few.

With big industrialists like Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Naveen Jindal, among others, routinely flouting norms and tweaking rules to suit their own ends, to bag projects undeservedly and to effect cartelisation of priceless natural resources such as coal, crude oil, power, telecom spectrum, etc, only a CAG monitoring can bring back a semblance of transparency in the functioning of the government-corporate nexus. In this light, the Delhi CM’s demand that discoms and telcos should go through CAG audit is not only a welcome suggestion, but in fact the only way out to readjust the structure and make honesty and impartiality a prerequisite.
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