Government not to bail out Satyam: Pranab (Lead)

February 19th, 2009 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The government does not intend to bail out the scam-hit Satyam Computer Services as the company has “adequate assets” and can bounce back if run professionally, Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee said here Thursday.
“Let me make it clear that the government has no intention to bail out the company. The company has adequate assets (to survive) if run professionally,” Mukherjee, who is holding the finance portfolio while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recuperates from heart bypass surgery, said during question hour in the Rajya Sabha.

“It is in the government’s interest that an important company, with a large number of international clients and with a good name, if run professionally can be (re)-established,” the minister maintained.

He also brushed away suggestions that the Andhra Pradesh government was attempting to shield the perpetrators of the Satyam scam by interfering in the multi-agency investigations into the Rs.70-billion (Rs.7,000-crore/$1.43-billion) scandal.

“There is no question of interfering or barring the statutory authorities from functioning. The chief minister (of Andhra Pradesh) has completely assured me of full cooperation with all agencies. The chief secretary (of the state) has been designated as the nodal officer (for the investigating agencies).

“It was on the recommendation of the state government that a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe was ordered,” Mukherjee pointed out.

Raising the “side issue” of the role of chartered accountants in the Satyam scam, Praveen Rashtrapal of the Congress asked whether any changes were contemplated in the role of the industry watchdog, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

“If it is found that someone has indulged in unlawful activities, action will be taken. But one should not blame an institution for the actions of some individuals,” Mukherjee maintained.

Two partners of Satyam auditors PriceWaterhouseCoopers have been arrested for looking the other way while Satyam founder B. Ramalinga Raju systematically cooked the IT major’s books.

Mukherjee’s remarks came two days after the government sidestepped a demand to appoint a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the Satyam scam, even as the issue rocked the Rajya Sabha and dominated the entire question hour.

“The question is not clear,” Company Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta had replied when asked why a CBI probe had been ordered into the scam when what was required, given the enormity and ramifications of the crime, was a JPC enquiry.

With the Satyam scam figuring in parliament for the first time, Gupta, in fact, frequently found himself on the back foot fielding a barrage of questions from irate members as he repeatedly attempted to distance the government and the regulatory bodies from responsibility in the scam.

At the same time, Gupta admitted to shortcomings in the existing companies law and said a bill to address this had been introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

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