The controversy over granting 2G spectrum to new entrants refuses to die down and is in fact slowly turning out to be a potential political issue with the opposition BJP demanding a CBI probe into the incident as well as a Times of India (ToI) report pointing out discrepancies in the way the policy decision was made.
The Times of India report says that current RBI governor, D Subbarao had written a letter to DoT when he was the fiancé secretary last year wherein he had expressed his displeasure at the fact that there was loss to exchequer due to licences being issued at 2001 prices. He had asked for a stay on the issue of licence, says the ToI report.
His communication to DoT said, “The purpose of this letter is to confirm if proper procedure has been followed with regards to financial diligence. In particular, it is not clear how the rate of Rs 1,600 crore determined as far back as 2001, has been applied for a licence given in 2007 without any indexation…In view of the financial implications, the ministry of finance should have been consulted in the matter before you finalized the decision.”
Subbarao in his communication also said,” Kindly review the matter and revert to us as early as possible with responses to the above issues. Meanwhile all further action to implement the above licences may please be stayed.”
This reported communication is in contrast to the Minister’s version last week when he said that Trai as well as Finance Ministry were taken into confidence before going ahead with the 2001 prices. Another ToI report had pointed out that Trai objected to Minister’s stand that the regulatory body was party to the decision. The report had similarly carried out written instances where Trai had cautioned the DoT against going ahead with the old prices and interpreting Trai’s recommendations out of context.
Even the opposition has upped its ante against the Minister with the main opposition party BJP demanding a CBI probe into the whole controversy. BJP demanded that the letters to which the Telecom Minister is referring be made public. It termed it as the mother of all scams.
Additionally the All India Trade Union Congress general secretary, Gurudas Das Gupta has demanded removal of the Telecom Minister, Telecom Secretary and Trai Chairman. It has demanded that the granted licences be scrapped and fresh licences be issued after auctioning process.
The Minister as well as DoT have been under the lens for the past few days after new entrants Swan and Unitech announced deals whereby it emerged that the valuations of the companies multiplied manifold which is widely believed to be the market price of the start-up spectrum held by them.