New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has virtually disowned its report on the allocation of coal blocks and called media reports related to it misleading. The CAG told the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) that there was no loss to the exchequer in the allocations of 155 coal blocks across the country between 2004 and 2009.
According to the CAG the report on the coal blocks which appeared in the media on Thursday does not constitute their findings and the loss figure of Rs 10.7 lakh crore was misleading. The CAG told the PMO that the audit report on coal blocks was still under preparation.
The PMO issues a statement saying that the CAG had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said that the report was still at a very preliminary stage
"With reference to the lead story published in the Times of India today titled 'Government lost Rs 10.7 lakh cr by not auctioning coal blocks: CAG', the Prime Minister has received a letter from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India at 1:30 pm today," the PMO press release said.
The press release added: "Among other things, the letter clarifies that: In the extant case the details being brought out were observations which are under discussion at a very preliminary stage and do not even constitute our pre-final draft and hence are exceedingly misleading. … Pursuant to clarification provided by the Ministry in exit conferences held on 9.02.2012 and 9.03.2012, we have changed our thinking …. In fact it is not even our case that the unintended benefit to the allocatee is an equivalent loss to the exchequer. The leak of the initial draft causes great embarrassment as the Audit Report is still under preparation. Such leakage causes very deep anguish."
According to a report in 'The Times of India', 155 coal blocks were given to commercial entities without auction between 2004 and 2009 leading to a loss of nearly Rs 10.7 lakh crore. The estimated loss is six times higher than the presumptive loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore for the 2G spectrum allocation.
Coal block beneficiaries include almost 100 private companies as well as some public sector units in industries such as power, steel and cement.
According to the CAG report the estimated "windfall gain" of Rs 6.31 lakh crore (PSUs - Rs 3.37 lakh crore and private companies - Rs 2.94 lakh crore) is based on the prices prevailing during the year of allocation on constant cost and price basis and as on March 31, 2011.
The amount at current prices would now work out to Rs 10.67 lakh crore (PSUs - Rs 5.88 lakh crore and private parties - Rs 4.79 lakh crore), the CAG said in the draft report.