PM terms CAG report flawed

PM terms CAG report flawed

BJP govts opposed coal auction, he says

PM terms CAG report flawed

Questioning various premises of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the coal block allocation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said several of its observations were “disputable” and “flawed” even as he asserted that he would take “full responsibility” for the decisions of the coal ministry.

Underlining that the delay in going for auction of these blocks was because of opposition from the BJP-ruled states, divergent recommendations from the law ministry and suggestion from the parliamentary standing committee to seek more consultation on the auction issue, the Prime Minister said (BJP’s) “allegations of impropriety are without basis and unsupported by facts.”

Singh made the statement in Parliament where he was not allowed to complete his speech as the BJP members shouted him down. He had to finally lay his speech on the table of each House.

The two Houses were adjourned again on Monday as the disruption of Parliament entered the second week with an unrelenting BJP demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister for being allegedly responsible for the loss to the exchequer, put at a whopping Rs 1.86 lakh crore, by the CAG.

Singh held the coal portfolio during the length of time when coal blocks were allocated through a process of selection by inter-ministerial screening committee in which state governments too were represented.

Asserting that there was no wrong-doing in the allocation of coal blocks, Singh questioned the very nature of CAG’s scrutiny.

 He said: “ a democracy, it is difficult to accept the notion that a decision of the Government to seek legislative amendment to implement a change in policy should come for adverse audit scrutiny. The issue was contentious and the proposed change to competitive bidding required consensus building among various stakeholders with divergent views, which is inherent in the legislative process.”

The CAG had observed that competitive bidding could have been introduced in 2006 by amending the administrative instructions in vogue instead of going through a prolonged legal examination of the issue which delayed the decision-making process.

The Prime Minister said the CAG observations that screening committee did not follow a transparent and objective method in allocation leading to “windfall gains” to private companies “are clearly disputable.”

Noting that policy of allocation of coal blocks to private parties, which the CAG has criticised, was in practice since 1993, Singh sought to drive home the point that the allocation was a collective decision of the Centre and states.

Cancel all allocations: BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cancel all the coal blocks allotted without auctioning during the UPA regime and tender his resignation taking moral responsibility for the huge financial loss incurred by the public exchequer.