Ex-CAG Vinod Rai picks up Arvind Kejriwal baton says, not just power discoms, all PPP projects must be audited

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 14 2014, 22:31pm hrs
Arvind kejriwalArvind Kejriwal's war on power discoms may have been limited to Delhi, but that is not stopping ex-CAG Vinod Rai from eyeing a pan-India PPP fight.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's war on power discoms has been expanded today by former CAG Vinod Rai to include not just power discoms, but also all Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects. Rai said all PPP projects in India must have their financial accounts audited by government auditor.

Vinod Rai, whose reports on various scams had raised the hackles of those in the UPA government, also asked why should the private power companies have any objections to a government audit.

"Power distribution companies are like a PPP project. Their accounts should be audited by a credible auditor and government's credible auditor is CAG," Vinod Rai said.

"All of them (PPP projects) need to be audited. There should also be an enabling clause that CAG can audit any PPP project," he said, and asked, "What is the hitch they (companies) have in the audit," he asked.

Vinod Rai's comments came against the backdrop of the Delhi government coming out with an order on January one for a CAG audit of finances of three power distributing companies - BSES Yamuna Power Ltd, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd. These companies have strongly opposed the CAG audit of their finances.

The CAG is in the process of starting audit of these companies since privatisation of power distribution in Delhi in 2002.

The Delhi High Court early this month had also given its nod to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to audit the accounts of private telecom companies.

It is pertinent to mention that Chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), P D Sudhakar, had in July last year favoured audits of private power companies.

"There should be a CAG audit of the accounts of all the private power distribution companies. We have already sent a recommendation to the Delhi government for it," he had said then.

Some PPP projects in the country also involve those in the road and highways sector.

Vinod Rai, a former IAS officer, had often come under the criticism from the government over his various audit reports that brought out alleged irregularities in coal blocks allocation, 2010 Commonwealth Games-related projects and Adarsh housing society scam among others.

The former CAG said he had three years ago first raised the matter of discoms' audit.

"We had given a request three years ago in 2011 for audit (of discoms). I had written then as lot of representations were coming in to Parliament, to Members of Parliament and also there was a media outrage over high electricity charges," said Rai, who was CAG between 2008 and May 2013.

No order for such audits were issued by the Delhi Government then.

Rai also rejected contention by the government that CAG and other investigating agencies like CBI were sometimes overstepping their jurisdictions resulting in "policy paralysis".

"What policy paralysis Three major works audited were Commonwealth Games projects, Coal Blocks allocation and Mumbai's Adarsh housing society scam.

"We have Prime Minister talking about transparency and accountability in governance. Somedays back Attorney General has said that 'something has gone wrong' in coal blocks allocation. Maharashtra government is acting on Adarsh housing society case. Why should anybody feel that there would be any policy paralysis, he asked.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram had in November come down heavily on investigating agencies and CAG for "overstepping" their limits by attempting to convert bonafide executive decisions into either crimes or abuse of authority.

"Unfortunately, there are a number of cases where investigating agencies and other authorities like Comptroller and Auditor General, have overstepped their limits and attempted to convert bonafide executive decisions into either crime of abuse of authority," he said delivering his key note address on "building a criminal justice system to deal with financial crime" at Golden Jubilee function of CBI on November 12, 2013.

Besides him, other senior ministers like Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal and V Narayanasamy had in past criticised CAG for its reports citing loopholes in key government's decision.