PAC will decide on PM’s offer to appear before it: Joshi (Second Lead)

Monday, December 27, 2010

NEW DELHI - Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who chairs parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Monday said the panel will take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer to appear before it on the 2G spectrum allocation scam issue.

Joshi, speaking to mediapersons, said the panel was not tied to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report in its probe into the allocation of second generation airwaves to telecom companies in 2008 that is alleged to have caused losses to the national exchequer.

“The PAC has got a letter from the prime minister in which he has repeated his offer of appearing before the PAC, if needed. An appropriate decision will be taken at an appropriate time depending on the collective wisdom of members, Joshi told mediapersons here after the end of the committee meeting.

CAG Vinod Rai was present at Mondays PAC meeting.

Referring to media reports about the meeting, Joshi said it was wrong to say that the CAG had been summoned by the committee. He said CAG was a part of the panel and assists it in its work.

He said at the last meeting the members wanted to understand some finer and technical points of the CAG report, which looked into the 2G spectrum allocation controversy, and these were explained at the meeting Monday.

Joshi said the work of PAC was not tied to CAG report and it can look into any issue relating to misuse of public money.

BJP leaders, who are steadfast in demand of Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigation into the 2G spectrum controversy, have maintained that the PAC basically looks into the CAG report.

Joshi said the CAG report had calculated presumptive loss to exchequer from 2G spectrum allocation in three different ways and the committee may decide on one of these models or choose another model.

He said the government had provided PAC the information it had sought. It is a huge bundle. We will study it in detail, he said.

Joshi refused to comment on the varying stance of the opposition and government on the need for a JPC on the 2G spectrum controversy.

Whether government constitutes JPC or not. No comment from PAC, he said.

Answering queries, he said if there is a need, the panel will look into the 2G spectrum allocation from 2001.

Answering another query, he said no minister can be called by PAC under the rules unless the speaker gives permission.

Asked if former communications minister A. Raja will be called, Joshi said if the committee feels the need it will do so.

He refused to give a time frame for the PAC to give its report, saying a lot of information has to be looked into. Whatever more information is needed will be taken.

Joshi also denied apprehensions that the committee was working at a fast pace. He said that PAC had held eight meetings on the 2G spectrum issue and the meetings had been held in different months.

Joshi, who was made chairman of PAC in May 2010, said the next meeting of the committee on the spectrum issue will be held in January.

He said that if members want, a meeting will be held to talk about 3G spectrum allocation.

The government has rejected the opposition’s demand for JPC, saying a PAC was looking into it and a multi-level investigation was also being conducted simultaneously.

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