PM was ‘misled’: JPC report on 2G spectrum

 

The report of the 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on “allocation and pricing of telecom licences and 2G Spectrum during 1998-2009” was presented to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and has also been made available to the public in the Lok Sabha website : http://www.loksabha.nic.in

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Stating that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was “misled” by Raja, the report has come down heavily on the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for calculating the ‘unrealistic’ loss figures, which placed India among the most corrupt nations of the world. The CAG, in its report, had said the telecom department’s move to grant spectrum below market prices had cost the exchequer Rs 1.76 lakh crore in potential losses.

On the CAG’s audit report, the committee noted, “In the backdrop of the disrepute caused to the nation on account of projection of such astronomical figures in the audit report pitching the country among the most corrupt nations in the world, the Committee in hindsight could only wish that the figures projected in the report could have been more realistic deriving out of proven facts.”

“The tele-density, which was a paltry 2.33% in 1999 rose to an impressive 78.66% in 2011-12. It is a matter of grave concern that while calculating the presumptive loss the audit never took cognizance of the benefits, which accrued as a result of the policy,” the report says.

The report also observed that that when the telecom regulator took a consistent stand against spectrum auction and increase in entry fee for new players, “it is astonishing how the audit could consider calculating loss, be it actual or presumptive, on account of allocation of licences and spectrum.”

The JPC in its report held that the (NDA) government in 1999 had to forgo revenue to the tune of Rs 42,080.34 crore in the course of offering migration package as it did not provide for recovery of that amount. Six parties have submitted dissent notes on the JPC report. The dissent notes were also submitted by JPC chairman PC Chacko. The dissent notes are a way to record members’ objections to the findings and are appended with the final report when it is tabled.

The report has termed spectrum as “a precious national asset,” and that it was necessary for all spectrum users, whether government or private, work in the spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation and utilise the resource optimally with self-discipline.

The Committee has suggested that, in order to ensure optimal utilisation of assigned bandwidth, the TRAI, as regulator, should undertake spectrum audit for which details should be finalised at the earliest. It added that, the guidelines for spectrum audit should contain a provision for penalty for hoarding of excess spectrum and also for taking back excess spectrum, if found.

 – Agencies

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