Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said some ‘radical thinking’ is needed on the part of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) while auditing books of accounts of state-owned companies as they are now expected to take quick decisions to compete with their private sector peers.
Jaitley said the environment in which the public sector units (PSUs) operate have changed after 1991, though they have to adhere to the rules framed when state-owned companies used to enjoy a monopoly in their respective sectors.
“We still have not paid enough attention to this chaining of the public sector to the legal regime that we have done, particularly in sectors where there is competition. And therefore, this impacts on their performance, this impacts on the timetable, whereas the private sector is free from this. If we want them to exist, survive, and survive with full financial strength then how do we allow them a level playing field,” he said while addressing the 29th Accountants General Conference in the capital.
He said the time has now come for the CAG, government, and judiciary to appreciate the competitive environment, in which the PSUs now operate is entirely different from the pre-1991 regime.
“Therefore, these are all situations … will require a more radical thinking and I am sure in your future deliberations, this is one area which will occupy your mind space,” Jaitley told the accountant’s general.
The Finance Ministry’s Economic Survey in 2017 had flagged the issues concerning the functioning of the PSUs. It said that decision making suffers from 4Cs—courts, CVC (Central Vigilance Commission), CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General).
Jaitley said while PSUs have to face an audit by the CAG and follow a prescribed procedure for tenders and hiring employees, the private sector companies enjoy flexibility as there is no fear of such audit.
He said the public sector companies are unable to take quick decisions as compared to their private sector counterparts because of various regulation.