JPC grills FinMin officials; CAG, R P Singh next in line

JPC grills FinMin officials; CAG, R P Singh next in line

Secretary, Finance R S Gujral and Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, R Gopalan appeared before the JPC to explain why the Finance Ministry did not submit the note -- which indicated that had then Finance Minister P Chidambaram insisted, the 2G spectrum could have been auctioned-- to the panel.

Committee Chairman P C Chacko told reporters that Gopalan told the panel that during its July 7 briefing, the Finance Ministry had covered all "relevant documents and facts available on files to JPC". The official said the note was a background paper consisting of ex post facto facts.

To a pointed query by Chacko on the failure of the Ministry to provide the document, Gopalan said the note did not add to any relevant facts covered in the July 7 briefing.

"While not going into the merits of the note, the Committee took serious note of the fact that number of papers referred to in the note and files relating to preparation of note had not been furnished to JPC for perusal," Chacko said.

The Finance Ministry top brass has been asked to provide the documents to the committee and appear before it on November 14.

With the figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore presumptive loss in 2G spectrum allocation being disputed, CAG Vinod Rai and other officials of the government auditor have been asked to appear before the JPC on November 14.

Besides CAG Rai, former Director General of Audit (Post and Telecommunication) R P Singh has also been asked to appear as a witness before the panel.

Singh was the lead auditor in 2G spectrum allocation issue and had reportedly disputed the loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Singh had reportedly said the losses were to the tune of Rs 2,645 crore.

Congress member Manish Tewari is learnt to have raised the issue of differences within the CAG on the loss figure in the meeting and demanded calling Rai to explain it. He is understood to have been supported by some non-UPA members as well.

While Rai and Singh have been called on the same date, they will appear before the Committee separately.

Rai had recently written to JPC offering to make himself along with his officials "available" whenever their "assistance" is sought.

Rai, along with other officials of CAG, had appeared before the JPC on May 30 to brief the panel on its report on spectrum allocation.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders, including Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha, alleged that the word "approval" has been over-written by the word "perusal" in the covering letter of the 2G note.

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