“Maran kept spectrum pricing out of GoM”

The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that is probing the 2G spectrum allocation scam was on Thursday told by the Union Ministry of Finance how in 2006 the then Telecom Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, was able to remove the issue of spectrum pricing from the terms of reference (ToR) of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Telecom.

The Ministry of Finance, which was then headed by P. Chidambaram, strongly felt that spectrum pricing should be discussed in the GoM and subsequently cleared by the Cabinet, but Mr. Maran did not agree to this, JPC Chairman P.C. Chacko told journalists here.

The JPC was briefed about the spectrum pricing issue by senior Finance Ministry officials.

“Mr. Maran felt that the Communications Ministry, being the administrative Ministry, spectrum pricing was its prerogative. There were letters exchanged between the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Finance on the issue… but Finance Ministry still feels that the pricing issues should have been discussed at the highest level (GoM and Cabinet),” Mr. Chacko said.

This revelation comes on the day when Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran resigned from the Union Cabinet due to his alleged involvement in the 2G scam. Even the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India report on the 2G scam has clearly mentioned that “DoT managed to keep the issue of spectrum pricing outside the purview of the GoM.”

“The GoM's role in December 2006 was confined to issues concerning spectrum vacation. The ToRs left out the other two issues of efficient allocation [of spectrum] and pricing… Thus, by getting the spectrum pricing issue deleted from the ToR, the DoT completely side-tracked the pricing issues. The advice of the Ministry of Finance was overlooked by the DoT ostensibly on the basis of a four-year-old Cabinet decision [October 2003] on the premise that it was authorised to calculate the entry fee for licences as per the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India [TRAI] in 2003,” the CAG report pointed out.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 8:41:56 AM |

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