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Public Accounts Committee chairman K.V. Thomas. Photo: Mint
Public Accounts Committee chairman K.V. Thomas. Photo: Mint

PAC has powers to summon even the prime minister, says chairman K.V. Thomas

PAC has summoned RBI governor Urjit Patel and top finance ministry officials on 20 January for a scrutiny of the government's demonetisation policy

Kochi: Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman K. V. Thomas on Monday said the panel examining the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) government’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes has powers to summon even the Prime Minister.

He said PAC has asked Reserve Bank of India ( RBI) governor Urjit Patel and top finance ministry officials, including the finance secretary; secretary, economic affairs; and secretary, banking, to be present before it on 20 January for scrutiny of the major policy decision.

“It is the committee which takes decision on such matters. Decisions in this regard will be taken only after the 20 January meeting of the PAC," Thomas said when asked whether the PAC would summon Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley. “We have powers to summon anyone... Even the Prime Minister and the ministers...that question will come later only. Not now," Thomas said.

He said the panel decided to take up the matter in its 20 January meeting following the Prime Minister’s announcement in November that the situation will normalise in 50 days. The PAC, which scrutinises reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), takes suo motu note of important matters. “It is a people’s issue," Thomas said when asked whether the panel, comprising members from all major political parties, would be able to prepare a unanimous report.

Also Read: Parliamentary committee to question RBI governor Urjit Patel on cash crunch

“Ours is a 21-member committee, out of which 12 members are from the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP). I have been the chairman of the PAC for last three terms. This is for the first time that a PAC chairman has got an extension for a third term. All our decisions on all major issues like Commonwealth games (CWG), 2G, AgustaWestland and KG basin were unanimous. If we are able to produce a unanimous report on such major issues, it will be possible in this issue also," he said at a press conference in Kochi to highlight problems in implementation of Food Security Act by Kerala’s CPI(M)-led LDF government.

Citing an earlier instance of summoning the RBI governor on the NPA issue, he said it was in that scrutiny that the issue of over Rs7 lakh crore non-performing assets was revealed.

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