Welcome, The New Auditors
Before we get to the auditors, we still can't quite fathom when the last round of austerity measures announced over two years ago came to an end. Meanwhile a new cutback notification has been issued by the Government - which is as noteworthy for its wide sweep as its generality. So the usual suspects - no conferences/functions in five star hotels, reduction in foreign travel, and stoppage in buying vehicles unless it’s the armed forces. Guess what, most Government departments lease vehicles in any case.
Further, a slowdown in consultancy contracts, discipline in fiscal transfers to states, public sector undertakings and autonomous bodies. Okay, here's a question. What about Air India, whose losses mount by the day and every flying hour? Interested in the numbers? Accumulated (estimated) losses are Rs 20,320 crore ($4.5 bn) while total debt is a staggering Rs 46,950 crore ($10.4 bn). If you want to add that up, its Rs 67,270 crore ($14.9 bn). Annual revenues are around Rs 13,000 crore ($2.8 bn).
A Good Start
Now, India's federal auditor, the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) is setting up an audit advisory board. Good start. And you would expect them to come from a audit or finance background. Err, not quite. Included in the list are: Dr. A.K. Shiva Kumar, Advisor, UNICEF, Rohini Nilekani, Chairperson, Arghyam, Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment and actor Shabana Azmi. Like we said, it’s a good start.