Kejriwal seeks CAG audit of Delhi discoms

New Delhi, Dec 31 : Newly-installed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday asked the state's electricity distribution companies to state their objections to their likely audit by the nation's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

""We have given notice to power companies for audit. Power companies have been asked to send their reply on why there shouldn't be an audit, by tomorrow (Wednesday)," the chief minister told reporters here after meeting CAG Shashi Kant Sharma to discuss the issue ahead of a meeting of the Delhi cabinet.

"Delhi government is of the view that audit of these companies can be done. But under the provisions of law, the three companies were being given the opportunity of being heard on the government audit of their finances," Kejriwal told reporters ahead of the meeting.

"They are being given time till tomorrow morning by which they will have to give their representations," he added.

The three discoms in question -- Reliance companies BSES, BSES Rajdhani (BRPL) and BSES Yamuna (BYPL) -- have had their accounts described earlier by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as being "fudged and unreliable" and thus untrustworthy regarding their revenues situation.

AAP had also earlier demanded that tariffs should only be increased after the companies' audit by the nation's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

A top CAG source told IANS that it favoured an audit of the companies and would await a formal request for audit of these firms.

After the AAP formed the government here, expectations are running high whether the ruling party would deliver on its promise of reducing the power tariff by 50 percent in the national capital.

The discoms have been pointing out that majority of the rate hike in Delhi - 45 percent - has happened in the last two years and that inadequate tariffs instead have led to huge un-recovered costs of Rs.20,000 crore.

The national context overall is one of precarious financial health of state-run distribution companies (discoms). These had a debt burden by end-March 2012, of a staggering Rs.246,000 crore, for which the government approved a restructuring package in September last year.

Electricity tariffs were revised in the national capital in July this year. Delhiites pay a minimum of Rs.3.90 per unit tariff.

The CAG source told IANS that since private companies are generally beyond the CAG's purview, such an audit would create a precedent of sorts. The issue puts it in the same league as the audit of RIL's KG-D6 fields operations in the eastern offshore, which has provoked debate over its admissibility.

--IANS (Posted on 31-12-2013)

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