New Delhi: There could have been irregularities in the grant of telecom licences and spectrum in India in 2008, the telecom minister said on Friday, a scandal that has forced the government on the backfoot and virtually stalled policymaking.
But telecom minister Kapil Sibal said he disagreed with the state auditor’s estimate of losses to the exchequer.
“We are extremely pained at methodology adopted by CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) for arriving at 2G spectrum (allocation loss) figures... that have no basis”, the minister said.
The CAG estimates on losses arising from sale of 2G spectrum, the minister added, were “utterly erroneous”.
Asserting that there were actually no losses to the exchequer, Sibal said “CAG has done injustice to itself and the Opposition is doing injustice to aam aadmi”
The CAG in its 77-page report, tabled in Parliament in November last year, had said that due diligence was not followed and even the recommendations of the telecom regulator Trai were “not followed in spirit”.
The report said the “presumptive” loss caused to the exchequer through spectrum allocation to 122 licensees and 35 dual technology licences in 2007-08 was Rs1,76,645 crore. It arrived at the figure on the basis of 3G auction held earlier this year in which the government mopped up over Rs67,000 crore.
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has vowed to block the February budget session of Parliament if the Congress-led coalition government does not set up a joint parliamentary committee to probe the case.
The December parliamentary session was virtually washed out.
The telecom row is only the largest of a raft of corruption cases that has embarrassed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government and which has diverted attention from policymaking.