CAG says his facts never been disputed

Rai's comments come at a time when his office is to be found on the front pages of most business dailies in a slugfest with Reliance Industries over auditing the KG-D6 block

Sindhu Bhattacharya November 07, 2012 12:28:22 IST
CAG says his facts never been disputed

New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai stands by his controversial audit reports, which have come for a load of criticism in recent times, saying no one has yet disputed facts in his reports.

"No one has, as yet, disputed any facts we have put out. Yes, there may be some dispute over our calculations. It may have been 1.6 times instead of 1.7 but there has been no dispute about our facts," he said this morning on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum where he was a participant in a session which discussed corruption and ways to address it in India.

Rai, one of the most high-profile auditors in recent times, has often been accused of overactivism. To a question on whether government departments his office audits are correct in saying CAG does not give them enough time to respond to criticism, Rai said there are multiple entry and exit conferences the CAG office holds with these departments before finalising reports.

CAG says his facts never been disputed

Rai, one of the most high profile auditors in recent times, has often been accused of overactivism

So where is the communication gap?

Rai said the auditor incorporates what the audited entity is saying in its reports and then also gives his own opinion as an auditor. "This opinion is mine as an auditor," he said.

Rai's comments come at a time when his office is to be found on the front pages of most business dailies in a slugfest with Reliance Industries (RIL) over auditing the KG-D6 block. He declined to comment on this audit, saying he will not even confirm if the audit is happening, about to happen or has been shelved.

Refusing the demands of the Mukesh-Ambani-owned RIL, the CAG has stated that the operator's "restrictive conditions" for carrying out an audit of the KG-D6 offshore block "impinge upon the basic mandate, rights and obligations of the [CAG]" to conduct as well as report the results of its audit to Parliament.

A story in the Hindu yesterday speaks of a letter CAG wrote to Petroleum Secretary GC Chaturvedi on 26 October, two days before Jaipal Reddy was shunted out of the Petroleum Ministry. In it, CAG stated that the restrictive conditions were unacceptable to it and the CAG's (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act gave it an unfettered right and would override all conditions sought to be imposed on the audit process.

According to CAG, RIL's conditions included that: (i) Audit will be restricted to "accounting books and records"; (ii) audit of the years that are time-barred would be subject to the consent of the operator; (iii) audit report is to be submitted to the Ministry and not Parliament; (iv) the audit would be subjected to confidentiality arrangements between parties to production-sharing contract (PSC), and the CAG would be bound not to use the information acquired during such audit for any other audit under the CAG's (DPC) Act.

"It would not be possible for us to conduct audit under such restrictions imposed by the operator [RIL]," Principal Director of Audit, Economic and Service Ministries AM Baja has stated in the letter.

Not just RIL, others including prominent Government departments have voiced their displeasure with CAG in the recent past.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has been telling CAG its audit of the Delhi International Airport as well as Air India's finances and plane buys has been one-sided; while other departments too have raised periodic objections to the way CAG works.

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