Following on the heels of the Delhi High Court's interim suggestion yestery that the Comptroller & Auditor General of India, the government's apex auditor, has the right to look into the accounts of telecom companies as they provide a public service (See: CAG has right to inspect cellular operators' accounts: Delhi HC), the Federation of Indian Commerce & Industry (FICCI) commented that there is ''no place for CAG interfering into a private company's books'', as the body was set up only to examine the accounts of government-run companies.
''As far as audit through CAG is concerned, we believe the CAG was constituted to be answerable to parliament in respect of businesses which are owned by the government. So therefore to my mind, there is no place for CAG interfering into a private company's books,'' FICCI president Sidharth Birla said at a conference in New Delhi.
Delhi's new government, headed by Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Admi Party, vowed soon after taking over that the accounts of Delhi's three private power distribution companies would be inspected by the CAG; which in turn said it would fast-track the audit of the 'discoms', an abbreiation for power ditributors.
In another comment, Birla also questioned the efficacy of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the United Progressive Alliance's flagship programme, saying it had drawn people away from productive or industrial employment, leading to fall in capital assets.
''When NREGA was originally conceived and passed in parliament, the expectation or the suggestion was that assets would be created. That has not happened,'' he said.
The industry body also unveiled an economic agenda for long-term growth, with focus on growth of enterprise and job creation.
''Accelerating investments in the industrial sector is central. There is a need to nurture and maintain a positive state of mind amongst existing and potential entrepreneurs. A healthy macro environment is a precondition for higher investments,'' Birla said.
''Hard decisions are a must to keep the fiscal deficit under check. Planned capital expenditure should not be compromised for revenue spending. A permanent solution lies in linking social spending to asset creation and skill building. Appropriate linkage of NREGA with productive work would meet inclusivity objectives while adding to growth,'' he added.
Pointing out that decision making had ''totally'' slowed down, Birla said, ''We must be seen as a nation inviting capital. Clarity in policy formulation, certainty in legislative interpretation, and time-bound, transparent implementation of policies with minimal [government] discretion is what business relentlessly seeks.''