Sibal blames CAG, media and courts for policy paralysis

Telecom minister says the source of paralysis is not the government
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First Published: Sat, Nov 10 2012. 10 46 PM IST
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal. Photo: Satish Kaushik/Mint
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal. Photo: Satish Kaushik/Mint
Mumbai: Telecom minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday blamed the “erudition of CAG, the media and the court” for the perceived policy paralysis and asserted that the government continues to take decisions.
“The paralysis has occurred because of three factors—the erudition of CAG, the media and the court. It is the symbiotic relationship between these three institutions that has resulted in a situation where we find it difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Yet this government continues to take decisions,” Sibal said, while answering a particular question at Economic Times Awards function.
The government has been battling the perception of policy paralysis for the past few months, with leaders like Infosys’ N.R. Narayana Murthy and Wipro’s Azim Premji criticizing the government on economic affairs amid threats of downgrading from global rating agencies.
“Where is the paralysis. I think if there is any paralysis, it is because Parliament is not functioning. Is the government responsible for it. May be partly, but there is an equal responsibility for those who sit on the other side because Parliament is forum for debate,” he said.
If laws cannot be passed, then the perception is there is paralysis, he said. “But the source of paralysis is not the government, either in executive decision making or in the context of our participation in Parliament,” he added.
“It (paralysis) started in 2010 not because of the government but because what happened in court of law. 122 licences were cancelled ... a paralysis did not emerge from us. The moment that happened, we started to set things right.” he said.
The government has taken quick and firm decisions in the the telecom sector, he said and cited the proposed 12 November auction as as example of government decision.
Responding to query on CDMA spectrum auction, which is a non-starter now, Sibal said: “The Supreme Court said in its judgement that (for) CDMA pursuant to the 3G auction price must be taken as the base. If the 3G auction price is taken as base, obviously we can’t do anything about it because there is a decision of the court.”
In 2010, the auction determined price for 5 Mhz of pan-India airwaves for 3G services stood at Rs 16,750.
Tata Teleservices and Videocon had opted out of CDMA spectrum auction, reportedly citing high base price as the reason.
Sibal said the government had to take this price as base. If the the base is so high, then it is difficult for corporate sector to participate, he said, adding that the market changes on a daily basis.
“What was there in 2007 was not there in 2010. What was there in 2010 is not there in 2012. So how can you have a decision of a court which tells you this is how you have to price your spectrum, when its the market which must determine the price of spectrum,” Sibal said. PTI
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First Published: Sat, Nov 10 2012. 10 46 PM IST