CAG ex-official rakes up row on 2G loss figure
But facts contradict Singh’s assertion
When former senior CAG auditor R P Singh said in a media interview published on Friday that the audit body’s 2G spectrum auction report was “not mine, but I was told to sign”, he was, perhaps, speaking only half truth.
Singh chose to rake up the controversy again after giving a similar interview last year. He never raised a dissenting voice on the issues he has gone public now while he was auditing spectrum allocation as CAG direction-general audit (P&T). Subsequently, he did not rake it up before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The CAG report was tabled in Parliament on November 16, 2010, and later PAC, headed by BJP veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi, went through it. In his deposition before the PAC which happened after he had given the interview last year, Singh acknowledged that he had participated in the CAG exit conference, where the draft report is compiled taking into account the department’s final reply to auditors’ queries.
At the same time, he also said that he was not involved in any discussion after handing over entire audit material to the CAG office to comply with directions of his seniors in May 2010.
When the PAC candidly asked him if he had annexed any dissent notes or if his recommendations were overruled during the long-drawn auditing process, Singh said he never gave dissent note and that “I did not make any observation or recommendation”.
On another PAC query, “Can your calculation be termed real and authentic unlike the calculations made in the final audit report which clearly states that the loss is presumptive and open,” the former CAG official said “these calculation (his loss figure was Rs 2,645 crore) is based on the cost inflation index which is normally adopted in the government offices. It depends on individual perception to treat them real and authentic or debate upon the same”.
But, the CAG in its response to the PAC had said that Singh’s figure was not arrived by the audit team. Ministry of Finance records had made it clear that the DoT and its own ministry did not consider the cost inflation index to calculate value as the parameter failed to capture the rapid growth of telecom sector, the CAG had said justifying revision of the loss figure.
Ironically, when the PAC asked Singh why he did not communicate to them, despite attending all their meetings, his difference with the CAG findings, he said that there was no occasion for him to do so. Singh had also denied giving interview to media earlier.
His statements rattled the ruling and opposition political parties. The Congress supported Singh’s diatribe against the CAG, which has become the party’s favourite whipping boy owing to series of scams unearthed due to their reports, demanding explanation from Parliament’s PAC and CAG on astronomical notional loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
"Yes, certainly I think so," Congress president Sonia Gandhi told reporters in Parliament when her reaction was sought if the BJP “has been exposed" over defending the CAG report on 2G scam.
PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi convened a press conference to launch a counter attack on the Congress. “I think the Congress has been exposed instead. Those who advised her to make the statement stand exposed. R P Singh had raised the issue earlier, too. Why did she not speak out then," Joshi told reporters at his residence.
He also said that Singh had made a power point presentation before the PAC defending CAG report on the 2G. "He never raised the issue then," Joshi questioned.
Singh has also charged that the officials from the CAG had gone out of way to help the PAC chairman prepare his report on the issue by assisting him at his residence even on holidays.
PAC: Who conducted the actual audit of the 2G spectrum issue? Do they report to you? Is there anything in the report which has not been examined/which is not the result of audit conducted by your team?
RP Singh: The team of the Branch Audit office, Delhi under DGA (P&T) [which was under him] conducted the audit…. The same team conducted the audit of the finance ministry as per the instructions of the CAG office because it is not included in the mandate of DGA (P&T) audit and the results of this audit were directly reported to the CAG office. Who conducted the online audit by visiting the website of the Ministry of
Corporate Affairs is not known to me. This reply is from memory…
PAC: What was the method followed for finalisation of the report? Were changes in the draft report made subsequent to discussions and processing of reports in HQ?
RP Singh: It would be pertinent to bring to your kind notice that vide CAG office letter dated 26th May 2010 (as I recollect) I was directed to hand over the entire audit material vailable with me to the CAG office. I complied with the directions. As per these directions, headquarters took upon itself the work of finalising the audit report at their end. I was not involved in any discussion.
PAC: Did you append any dissent note to the final report for consideration of the CAG, in case you differed on any of the audit findings?
RP Singh: No. the final report was submitted to CAG by DAI (RC) [his former boss Rekha Gupta].
PAC: Whether you were overruled on any of the audit observation/recommendations
to be incorporated in the final report?
RP Singh: I did not make any observation or recommendation. I forwarded the audit material as desired by the CAG office vide their letter dated 26th May 2010.