CAG seeks powers to evaluate SEBI, TRAI, IRDA

Once the Bill is approved, public private partnership projects and regulators like the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority might also come under the CAG scanner

New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) is seeking to widen the scope of its powers to audit the performance of regulators such as SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India), TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) and IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority) as part of the new legislation that will replace the CAG Act, 1971, reports PTI.

The proposed CAG Bill, now under consideration of the finance ministry, is likely to be tabled in Parliament in its next session.

"CAG is looking into the books of regulators like TRAI, SEBI and IRDA, but now wants to audit their performance also," official sources told PTI.

The CAG has already submitted a draft Bill to the finance ministry for replacing the CAG Act. The new law is aimed at significantly expanding the scope of the CAG's audit responsibilities.

"We are looking at auditing the regulators. We have asked in the draft Bill to replace the CAG Act of 1971 to allow audit of the financial (statements) and performance of regulators and public-private partnerships (PPPs). We are hoping that the Bill would be tabled in the Winter Session," the official said.

The draft Bill is likely to have provisions for punitive action against companies that delay submission of details sought by the auditor.

"We do not have powers to ensure that records are presented to us as and when we ask for it... We do not have punitive powers and our resources are limited," he said.

Once the Bill is approved, public-private partnership (PPP) projects and regulators like the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) might also come under the CAG scanner.

Under the Companies Act, 1956, the CAG can audit the books of only those companies in which the government owns more than a 50% stake.


IIP plunges to 21-month low of 3.3% as slowdown sets in

The fall the industrial production numbers, as shown by the latest data, suggest continuation of the sluggishness in the economy, experts said. The IIP had expanded by 5.9% in May but there was brief revival in June with industrial production growing by 8.8%

New Delhi: Confirming economic slowdown, industrial growth plunged to 21-month low of 3.3% in July even as industry stepped up pressure on Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for a halt in interest rate hikes, reports PTI.

The July data was disappointing as compared to a healthy 9.9% growth a year ago and 8.8% in June.

The capital goods sector was the worst performer with a decline of 15.2% during the month, reflecting erosion of investor confidence. Manufacturing and mining were other laggards.

The slowdown in factory output is worst since October 2009 when it grew at 2.3% when the economy was reeling under the impact of the global financial crisis.

The slowdown is being attributed to high interest rates and worsening global economic scenario.

Sharing industry's concerns, a worried chief economic advisor in the finance ministry Kaushik Basu said, "We are balancing between two very difficult problems. One is inflation which is persistent at close to 10% and slowdown in growth... the RBI will have to balance it out and take a decision."

RBI, which has raised key interest rates 11 times since March 2010, is scheduled to review the rates again on 16th September.

A strong reaction was seen in the stock market to the data with BSE Sensex diving by 2.1% to close at 16,501.

The industry chambers described the situation as serious.

"Unless corrective policy actions are taken we may enter the negative territory soon," Ficci secretary general Rajiv Kumar said.

Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) chairman C Rangarajan said the growth target for the industrial sector for the current fiscal will have to be revisited on account of the moderation witnessed in July.

"As regards the estimate of industrial production for the year as a whole, we will have to revisit the area after one or two months," he said.

In its Economic Outlook last month, the PMEAC had projected industrial growth for the current fiscal at 7.1%. The IIP had grown by 7.8% in 2010-11.
During the April-July period of this fiscal, IIP growth stood at 5.8%, as against 9.7% in the corresponding period last year.

Production of capital goods declined by 15.2% in July, as compared to a growth of 40.3% in the corresponding month of 2010.

Output of the manufacturing sector, which constitutes over 75% of the index, grew by only 2.3$ in July compared to 10.8% expansion in July 2010.

Mining grew by 2.8%, down from 8.7% in the year-ago period. Production of intermediate goods fell by 1.1% against a growth of 8.5% in July 2010.
Meanwhile, the IIP numbers for April has been revised downward to 5.3% from 5.7% estimated earlier.

"It is clear that the IIP numbers are a disappointment. I think we need a pick up in investments," Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said.

Moderating factory output will also have a bearing on the economic growth during the current fiscal which was pegged at 8% by the RBI. The GDP in the first quarter (April-June) fell to a six quarter low of 7.7%.


Noisy goodbye to Ganpati in sleepless Mumbai

Community groups and political parties flout time restrictions on the use of loudspeakers; police turn a deaf ear

Devotees bid a final adieu to Ganpati on Sunday, with loud shouts inviting the deity to visit them early the next time round. The ten-day celebrations were incident free, but the immersion processions turned out to be really noisy, resulting in sleepless nights for numerous citizens residing along the major routes, even as police turned a deaf ear to the violations.

Environmental activist Ms Sumaira Abdul Ali has written to the city police that in certain parts of the city loudspeakers blared well past the midnight deadline, notably near Girgaon Chowpatty, the busiest immersion site in the city. The loudspeaker rules were flouted not only by some community groups, but even neighbourhood offices of political parties that exploited the occasion to build the image of their leaders who joined the processionists.

Ms Ali wrote, "At midnight, loudspeakers used in processions were uniformly switched off, but fixed loudspeakers on booths of political parties continued at 90-100dB in the Lamington Road Police jurisdiction, in the presence of the police, and in spite of requests to shut them down. On the Girgaon side, just across the street, these were switched off at about 12.20am. The loudspeakers were used to welcome individual processions and call out names of prominent politicians accompanying them. They continued beyond 1am."

In Dadar, loud music was played by a DJ, who local residents say was sponsored by a politician. A resident said, "the procession blocked one side of the road and the noise was so loud that it felt like the road was throbbing. The presence of policemen didn't help, as they looked on quietly, reluctant to control the crowd or the sound levels."

Loudspeakers blared in residential areas and silence zones in parts of south Mumbai, Mahim, Matunga, Worli and Parel. Trucks with DJs, moved slowly past hospitals, or even stopped for long periods as they went by political party booths. And in the absence of police in many places, it was a disco party on the streets, irrespective of whether it was a residential area or a silence zone. Firecrackers were also burnt freely in several areas like Mahim, Santacruz, Parel and Opera House.

In Thane, just northeast of Mumbai, also, loudspeakers blared well beyond the midnight deadline, at immersion sites. Further inland, in Navi Mumbai, the processions were a lot quieter and largely kept to the prescribed time limits. Ms Ali and her co-workers attributed this to the alertness of police in the satellite city.

"With few exceptions, mandals and processions did not have loudspeakers. A combination of effective pre-emptive police action and awareness campaigns, following the recent Bombay High Court order to control noise, appears to have had an effect," she said.



nagesh kini

5 years ago

The immersion points of the Shivaji Park beach both pre- and post-immersion was more than a foot deep of plastic wastes ostensibly from Dharavi flowimg in from the discharge in the Mithi River.
The MCGM and Mahim Police objected to pictures taken 'in deference to public sentiments', when asked they couldn't produce the orders stopping picture taking.

Narendra Doshi

5 years ago

Overall, there may have been less noise, filmy songs, drum beating, music over the entire 10 day but still it is at an alarming high dB level.
For ALL festivals, functions, there is an urgent need to reduce the noise/disturbance in any form, to the neighborhood, public and also need for stronger policing. This time it seems there was less awareness/announcements in advance, to insist on time limits, dB levels etc by the authorities.
I hope this is done for the upcoming season and maintained for all the coming years.

Sachin Purohit

5 years ago

Sure, this period from Ganesh Chaturthi till Diwali is the noisiest in the year and authorities definitely need to do something about it. However, they need to deal with this issue with a secular face. The place where I stay in Ghatkopar is right opposite three different mosques about a couple of hundred meters away. The megaphones they use at regular intervals of time every single day are are a nuisance. On occasions of festivals, these loudspeakers are used well past the midnight. The morning namaz starts much before the normal waking hours of 6AM onwards. And my complaint does not necessarily come from a bias. In fact Ghatkopar is known for a very large number of illegal roadside temples that do aartis and festival celebrations at very high decibels. Point I am making is that each time police acts against a particular community's nuisance, they would be seen as being partial. Can we expect them to act against all kind of noise? I doubt if we have reached that stage. So I think we have to bear with all this and hope that better education levels of people will take care of all this after a decade or two from now.

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