prpri CAG decided to Audit account of Bharti Airtel, Reliance, Tata, Vodafone and BSNL CAG decided to Audit account of Bharti Airtel, Reliance, Tata, Vodafone and BSNL

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India , the apex audit body, has decided to audit the accounts of five telcos– Bharti Airtel , Reliance, Tata, Vodafone and the state-run BSNL– for 2009-10. Telecom regulator TRAI has already appointed a nodal officer to facilitate this audit exercise.

“The audit is aimed at giving a reasonable assurance to the government on the revenue share from the licencees. In the current year, I propose to take up audit of the accounts of Bharti Airtel, Reliance, Tata and Vodafone along with BSNL,” R P Singh, director general of audit (Post and Telegraph) said in a communication to Telecom Secretary P J Thomas.

A senior TRAI official said Manoj Mishra, a Deputy Adviser has been appointed as the nodal officer. As per a Department of Telecom notification in 2002, operators must give all statements including financial statements to TRAI to calculate the licence fee to be paid to the government. And the regulator will act as a facilitator as and when CAG decides to audit the accounts of the telcos.

The DG (Audit) is seeking a meeting with these operators next week to finalise audit plan and enhance mutual understanding between the service providers and auditors and wants the Department of Telecom to ask the operators to cooperate for the same. A senior DoT official said, the Department will be informed about the developments but has no role to play in it.

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  1. A.Banerjee says:

    Yes, a very valid point made by Mr. Vijaykumar. Except BSNL, the othere do not fall within the ambit of the definition of a PSU. But, if these non-PSUs are enjpying public funds/govt. approvals/licenses issued by the govt., in my opinion, and also in public interest, such audits are permissible.
    In any case, the CAG must have obtained legal opinion in favour of its decision. Moreover, such audits can always be ordered by the TRAI, the statutory regulatory authority.

  2. Vijay Kumar says:

    What is the statutory provision authorising CAG to get such audit done for a non-PSU entity?
    Will the audit report be a public document?
    Will it be available to CBEC and CBDT to examine if indirect and direct taxes have not been underpaid?

  3. A.BANERJEE says:

    The decision of the CAG to take up the audit of five telcos– Bharti Airtel , Reliance, Tata, Vodafone and the state-run BSNL is timely, though the effect of the expensive and time-consuming exercise will remain doubtful unless the powers-that-be gather enough courage to take necessary action against the errant auditees. As regards the TATAs, as an erstwhile customer of their VSNL internet service and a sufferer of that outfit’s unilateral decision to forfeit the amounts lying at the credits of numerous users/customers for their refusal to renew their subscription until the balance at their credit was fully exhausted, I would expect that VSNL will also be subjected to this proposed audit. In my case, there was more than Rs. 1500/- lying at my credit when the company unilaterally cancelled the service without any prior notice and also forfeited the amount. It is highly doubtful if such forfeited amounts are ever offered as income for purposes of taxation. I must make it clear that the company refused to refund the amount and instead insisted on renewal of subscription by making fresh payment. And, when the matter was taken up by a consumers’ forum, the company simply ignored their letters resulting in the forum deciding to give up their efforts.
    As regards the other entities, BSNL is perhaps better and cleaner, while the service of the others is far from satisfactory. It would have been better to have included MTNL too in this “survey” by the CAG.
    Such being the power and clout of monoliths like the said corporate (as is clear from the fact that when any grievance against these (dis)service-providers is referred to the TRAI, there is not even an acknowledgement from the latter of the recept of any complaint/grievance), even with their well-publicised political influence, one only hopes that the proposed audits would not become either non-starters or mere publicity stunts.

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August 2021