Did Public Accounts Committee influence 2G loss figure?

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New Delhi:  The controversy over how the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) arrived at the controversial loss figure in the 2G scam doesn't seem to end. NDTV has now accessed an internal note which indicates that the government auditor took a cue from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) while calculating the revenue loss to the government.

The CAG's office had, last week, denied that there was any outside influence but the note dated July 12, 2010, says that the PAC pushed the auditors to write a different revenue loss figure. It is written by one of the main authors of the 2G report, Shubha Kumar.

The note makes it clear that the method of calculating the loss was suddenly changed because members of the PAC asked for it in meetings. In the note, Shubha Kumar writes, "All the Public Accounts Committee members felt in the meetings that the huge capital infusion into the telecom companies could be attributed to the spectrum allotted."

By making this suggestion, PAC members not only clearly influenced the government auditor, it also shows the PAC wanted a different method to calculate the loss - a method that would clearly lead to a higher loss.

And the CAG did what the panel wanted as is seen in the internal note, "... we are... taking the amount infused as indicator of likely value/price that spectrum commanded in the market."

All this happened at the crucial stage when the CAG office was actually preparing the report, and shortly after this secret internal note, the loss figure was revised upwards to Rs 57,000 crores - an intermediate figure. There were several revisions in the report and when it was finally submitted to the Parliament in November 2010, it triggered a political avalanche by declaring the losses from the scam to be worth 1.76 lakh crores.

When asked for his reaction, PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi denied having influenced the loss figure in any way.

"The PAC has not at all influenced anything. We are not saying anything about the investments. What we are saying is this: That the investments should come in a proper manner. We have checked up with those who have come with foreign investments. We asked them 'How have you selected this company for foreign investment? These companies have no expertise, no infrastructure. Why have you participated with them?' They said 'Sir, only because they have got the licence for spectrum; we will use it and will earn money'," said Mr Joshi.

Whether the PAC intended or not, the internal note makes it clear that the CAG was influenced by members of the committee in its calculation of the loss figure.



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