PAC asks CAG how it fixed 2G loss at Rs 1.76 lakh crore

PAC asks CAG how it fixed 2G loss at Rs 1.76 lakh crore

The JPC members also questioned the authority of the Comptroller and Auditor-General to go into the policy issues concerning telecom.

Questioned on the notional loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore mentioned in the report on the 2G spectrum, CAG Vinod Rai explained in detail how and why his organisation had arrived at the figure.

Briefing reporters on the deposition of the CAG, JPC chairman P C Chacko defended him and said the CAG was well within his rights to calculate the presumptive loss. However, whether it amounted to questioning government policy was “unanswered,” Chacko added.

Rai, who briefed the JPC on the allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum during 1998 to 2009, maintained that the auditor acted within its constitutional mandate.

Some members contended that the telecom regulator TRAI had taken a ‘definite decision’ that the spectrum 800-900-1800 Mhz bands should not be auctioned. “That being a decision of TRAI and that being a policy decision, how come the CAG has come to the notional loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore... policy is not a matter which is a subject matter of audit. It is a government decision,” Chacko said, quoting members.

Since the government had taken the decision not to auction the scarce telecom waves, the CAG had been asked by “some members” if quantifying the loss amounted to questioning the policy prescription. “He (Rai) did not answer that,” Chacko said. Policy matters were “unauditable.” The CAG could, “without questioning policy decisions, calculate presumptive losses.”

Sources said that during the three-and-a-half hour long meeting, Congress member Manish Tewari sought to know the constitutional mandate of the CAG in looking into policy decisions of the government. At this, Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) said besides following the mandate, the CAG also followed certain conventions.

The JPC was formed after persistent demands from the Opposition parties at the beginning of the winter session of Parliament in February and it was mandated to look into India’s telecom policy from 1998 to 2008 that also covers the period of the BJP-led NDA rule. The committee will hear CBI chief A P Singh on June 7.

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