Sibal Sticks to Zero-Loss Claim in 2G Licence Allocation

Sibal Sticks to Zero-Loss Claim in 2G Licence Allocation
Sticking by his 'zero loss' claim in the 2008 2G telecom licence allocation, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has said that there was no question of a loss as there was no policy in place on auctioning of spectrum.

"I still stand by my zero loss comment in the 2G spectrum issue. There is no loss (in allocation of 122 telecom licenses). When there was no policy on auction, how can there be a loss," Sibal told PTI Bhasha on sidelines of a function here yesterday.

The Supreme Court had in February this year found fault with the first-come-first-serve allocation policy followed during the regime of then Telecom Minister A Raja and cancelled all the 122 telecom licences issued during that time.

"We have just followed the rules (of giving telecom licences) of the previous government," he said, adding the 2G spectrum was awarded on first-come-first-serve basis as a matter of policy by the previous BJP-led NDA government.

"We just followed the policy. There is no question of loss in it," he said adding, if there was any loss, it has been happening since the previous government.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), had estimated a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss to the exchequer in 2008 2G spectrum allocation.

In his comments following the CAG report, Sibal had claimed "zero loss" to the government.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), in its recent recommendations, has said auction of spectrum should be done at higher price than that of 3G spectrum, which was sold in 2010.

"Trai has given its recommendations. It will now go to Telecom Commission and then to Cabinet. We will see and then the government will discuss it and then a decision will be taken," Sibal said.

The Supreme Court, in its February 2 judgement, cancelling the 122 2G licences of operators like Sistema Shyam, Uninor, Loop and Etisalat DB, had ordered the government to conduct fresh auctions within four months, the deadline of which has now been extended to August 31.

While refraining from commenting on the reserve price fixed by the TRAI for 2G auction, he said there was a hue and cry when spectrum was sold at lower rates and now when it is being recommended to be sold at higher rates, there is still a problem being raised.
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