Saturday, 24 November 2012

R P Singh can't wash hands of report: CAG

R P Singh can't wash hands of report: CAG
Clean Media Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Nov 24 (CMC) The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has vehemently contested former CAG official R P Singh's claim that he was not involved beyond the draft stage in processing the 2G report, saying Singh was part of consultations right till the final discussions.

In a written submission CAG said Singh was a member of a peer group that carried out a "mid-term review of audit findings". Thereafter, he "...also participated in the final round of discussions on October 4, 2010, with DoT establishing that Singh and his office were involved at every stage of preparation and finalization of the performance audit report."

Sources in Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recalled that Singh was part of the CAG team that briefed the panel on the audit findings and had in fact led the presentation. He did not express any dissent with the CAG report at the time.

While CAG's detailed rebuttal to the PAC in February, 2012, challenged Singh's claims, it was also pointed out that although the former official did not recommend inclusion of a loss figure in his draft report he did refer to three loss figures.

While sending the draft report, Singh wrote in a forwarding letter that "If 2G rates are to be pegged to the rates discovered through auction for 3G spectrum, the impact would be Rs 1.02 lakh crore." He did not account for dual technology and extra spectrum that took the loss figure to Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

Singh claims that his team had suggested a mere Rs 2,600 crore loss to the exchequer in its draft report which was later shelved by the headquarters and that he was not involved in subsequent discussions.

Singh's letter, dated May 31, 2010, is once again in the news with certain observations where he had raised doubts whether such estimates could be included as loss to the exchequer when "the government had never contemplated any charges for spectrum other than the entry fee" being discussed.

Singh had in the same letter, accompanied with his draft report, said that "loss to the government due to decision not to auction 2G spectrum has not been quantified in the draft report. But, based on the voluntary offer from an operator for a pan India licence, the impact of non-revision of the price for the 2G spectrum would work out to Rs 65,725 crore."

On this comparison too he had offered reasons for exclusion in the draft report saying later the matter was in litigation and the operator had to back out for reasons he has not explained.

When this matter was raised before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on telecom in November, 2011, CAG Vinod Rai had given a point-by-point rebuttal and had emphasized that he had toned down one of the initial loss estimates that was put upwards of Rs 4 lakh crore.

In a power point presentation made before the JPC, which is probing the 2G spectrum scam and looking into the CAG's loss estimation, Rai had then said that in the three-stage audit process — adopted while preparing the report — there were different estimations starting from Rs 48,000 crore to Rs 4.19 lakh crore.

"In stage-I, the report prepared by Delhi team carried figures of Rs 48,000 crore and Rs 26,000 crore," the CAG told JPC members. In stage-II, this report was redrafted by the office of director general, R P Singh, and figures of Rs 2,645 crore, Rs 2,651 crore and Rs 36,000 crore was incorporated in the report.

CAG defended his final estimation saying in the stage III, "draft report was further scrutinized and after examination of records not available earlier, a range of figures from Rs 58,000 crore to Rs 176,000 crore emerged."

"Several figures of loss ranging from Rs 2,645 crore to Rs 4.19 lakh crore were projected at different stages. Final decision is that of the CAG," Rai had asserted before JPC.

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