Help find RIL books, CAG writes to Oil Ministry

Audit on the firms Rs 45,000 crore capital expenditure in limbo

The CAG has written to the ministry as it has not been able to access the accounts of RIL to conduct the audit of the government’s production-sharing contract with the company for Krishna-Godavari basin gas, a top official associated with the matter said.

The ministry, in turn, has favoured a meeting ‘very soon’ between the CAG and the contractor, RIL, the official added. “Audit has gone into a limbo, so we cannot share much detail,” a top CAG official said on condition of anonymity, when asked if the audit on the capital expenditure of Rs 45,000 crore by RIL in its KG basin blocks has been done.
Another official, who did not want to be named, said that the CAG was trying to work out a solution to take forward the audit that started about two years ago, and accordingly it had written to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Earlier this week, oil and gas regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) Director General V K Sibal had said that “the CAG team has carried out the audit work.” Sibal’s comments, published on the DGH’s official website, came after industrialist Anil Ambani, fighting a bitter gas battle with elder brother Mukesh, alleged that RIL had overstated its expenditure, and demanded a probe by the Central Vigilance Commission and audit by the CAG.

The CAG official said the special audit was being done on the government’s request under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) for finding natural gas and other petroleum products.

Auditing was being done not only of the production-sharing contract between the government and RIL, but also of at least six other deals. But the books of accounts of these contractors were not accessible, he added.

In his comments, Sibal had rejected Anil Ambani’s charge that the DGH had approved RIL’s Rs 45,000-crore ‘exorbitant capital expenditure’ plan for the gas fields, saying that three audits, including one by the CAG, were done for the expenditure.

The production-sharing contract provides for auditing the expenditure by three sets of auditors —– the auditors appointed by the management committee, those mandated by the government to do the job, and the CAG. “The idea of gold plating betrays a lack of knowledge of business economics. Inflating the expenditure does not benefit any stakeholder —– neither the contractor nor the government.

Still under review

Meanwhile, CAG has on record said his office was yet to ratify the $9billion capital expenditure claimed by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries for tapping natural gas from the Krishna-Godavari basin.

The remarks to IANS clearly run contrary to a statement by  Director General of Hydrocarbons V K Sibal recently that the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India had already carried out the necessary audit on the matter.

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