Audit outside CAG purview, says Bharti

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: May 1 2010, 04:25am hrs
Bharti Airtel, the countrys largest telecom operator, has written to the government objecting to the proposed audit of its accounts by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). The company has said the audit was outside the CAGs purview and would also amount to duplication of time and effort.

In a letter to the secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), PJ Thomas, Bharti has said: The various sections of the CAG (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act 1971, which set out the duties and powers of the CAG are with respect to audit of accounts of government companies/corporations under the Union of State. These powers do not extend to private companies like Bharti Airtel.

The firm said the information sought by the CAG was confidential and sensitive from a competition point of view. It asserted that such disclosures falls beyond its obligations under the licence agreement. Airtel also questioned the need for conducting such an audit soon after a special audit by DoT, which went on for eight months.

The operator has written: The recent audit required us to spend an enormous number of hours and dedicate a large number of resources to collate the massive data required by DoT. Considering that the audit went on for eight months and has been completed very recently, a fresh audit following immediately after the last is highly unfair on us and will result in major duplication of efforts/cost/time and manpower.

CAG, Vinod Rai had earlier said that CAG had still not got access to records of private operators despite a request by the government. According to the government, audit by the CAG is a must to ensure that telecom operators have made payments to the government as per licence rules.