CERC, Ministry of Power(MoP) slug it out on financial autonomy

Source Business Line:

The apex power regulator and the Ministry of Power could be headed for a showdown on the issue of the former’s financial autonomy.

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) Chairman, Dr Pramod Deo, in a strongly worded communication to the Power Secretary, Mr P. Uma Shankar, has objected to the release of funds to it being categorised as “grant-in-aid”.

Audit issue

The electricity sector watchdog has also turned down a demand for subjecting its accounts to audit by an Internal Audit team of the Ministry of Power, claiming that the existing checks and balances in the forms of an internal audit system in the Commission and the CAG’s audit of its accounts are more than sufficient.

In the missive, the Commission’s chief has stated that a separate CERC Fund was specifically created under the Electricity Act 2003 with a view to ensure autonomy to the Commission.

“Thereby, release of funds from CERC Fund, which are kept in the Public Accounts of India, cannot be categorised as ‘grant-in-aid’ or for that matter be subjected to the requirements of compliance of the terms and conditions appended with the grants-in-aid provided by the Government of India, generally from the Consolidated Fund of India”.

The letter states that the release of the Funds as ‘grant-in-aid’ needs to be modified to merely a release of funds from Public Accounts of India to meet its budgetary requirements, without the attendant conditionalities appended along with a release of funds as ‘grant-in-aid’.

On the other issue of audit, the regulator has categorically asserted that in view of the existing mechanisms of an internal audit system in the Commission as well as audit of the Commission’s accounts by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), “there may be no further additional requirement of internal audit by Ministry of Power”.

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