New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Coming down heavily on the Congress over its charge of "mal-intent" in the Centre's move for an alternate audit of six telecom companies by the Telecommunications Department, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday that the grand old party had perfected the "art of scoring self-goals".
"Notwithstanding the fact that the impropriety took place during the previous United Progressive Alliance government's rule, the Congress made an empty noise about this being an NDA telecom scam," Jaitley said in a Facebook post.
"Shrillness, non-application of mind and a belligerent rhetoric seem to be the strategy of the Congress. It is a pity that the party has been pushed to this desperation," he added.
The Congress on Thursday alleged that the Narendra Modi government overstepped its limit to order an alternate audit of six telecom companies, rejecting the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) scrutiny.
The audit by the CAG found under-reporting of income by the six telecom companies to the tune of Rs 46,045.75 crore from 2006-07 to 2009-10.
Accusing the Congress of running out of ideas, Jaitley said: "It has perfected the art of scoring self-goals."
He said under a well established policy of the government, telecom service providers pay to the government of India licence fee and spectrum-user charges on a revenue sharing basis.
Jaitley said the CAG report stated that the under-reporting of revenues depleted the Centre's share in licence fee and spectrum-user charges by about Rs 5,000 crore.
"The CAG report was received by the Telecom Department in February and its supporting documents in June 2016. The same are being scrutinised so that further action can be taken in the matter. As per the parliamentary procedure, the CAG report is now pending before the Public Accounts Committee," he said.
Raising questions over Congress claim that the scam occured under Modi rule, Jaitley claimed that the under-reporting relates to the period when the UPA was in power.
"The UPA government, under its very nose, allowed this under-reporting. The final CAG report pointed it out in February 2016 and only three weeks ago have the documents been sent by the CAG to the department," he said adding, "notwithstanding the fact that the issue is pending before the PAC, the Telecom Department, which is processing these documents, will take action."
"What is the act of omission or commission by the present government? An impropriety took place during the UPA rule for which the present government will take action," he said.
The Congress had alleged that the government opted for an alternate re-evaluation of these figures through chartered accountants who are empanelled with the department.
"This reflects the apparent government mal-intent," said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.