At no point had suggested competitive bidding: CAG
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The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has softened his position on the process of allocation of coal blocks, saying he never pitched for introducing the competitive bidding mechanism for allocating mines. He has also claimed that coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal has contradicted his own ministry's reply to Parliament on auction of coal.
"We have at no point of time suggested that a policy of competitive bidding should have been introduced", the CAG, Vinod Rai has told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament examining the audit report on allocation of coal blocks. Instead the national auditor has merely made observations based on the policies as prevailing at any point of time. The CAG's answer is significant as the UPA government has accused him of exceeding his mandate by suggesting there was a mistake in allocating coal through a screening committee, instead of through an auction.
In his deposition, the CAG has also quoted a reply to an unstarred question in Lok Sabha made in November 2007, where the then coal minister had argued for auction of coal. "Rational bidding is unlikely to increase the cost of coal when compared to notified price of Coal India", the minister had noted. Jaiswal has recently claimed that auction, while necessary, will, however, make coal prices shoot up and therefore raise prices of commodities like electricity and cement.
In an interview with CPI daily Janayugam on Friday, Rai has said that he was sure that the CAG findings would survive any close scrutiny. "We have no doubt about the credibility of the report. The method we had adopted for auditing is strong and on par with any best system in the world. We have a team of experienced professionals who have a proven track record in auditing in various fields," he told Binoy Vishowm, the editor of the CPI mouthpiece.
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