Give weightage to TRAI recommendations: JPC

Give weightage to TRAI recommendations: JPC New Delhi: The draft JPC report on 2G scam, which has triggered a political storm, has said that TRAI recommendations need to be accorded due weightage by the government and its expertise needed to be utilised.

The draft report, circulated to members on Friday evening, said while telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is bound to respond to queries in a time-bound manner, "government is at liberty to accept, reject or keep it pending without citing any tangible reason.

"On a close look at the provisions contained in Section 11(i) of the amended TRAI Act, the Committee find that these provisos specify time restrictions mostly on TRAI for executing its tasks pursuant to references received from the government.

"However, once TRAI forwards its recommendations, the government is at liberty to accept, reject or keep it pending without citing any tangible reason. Moreover, there have been instances in the past where the recommendations of TRAI were cold shouldered by the government."

It said two specific instances are the recommendations on 'Spectrum Related Issues' of May 13, 2005 and the recommendations on 'Unified Licensing Regime' of January 13, 2005.

"Whereas in case of the former, the decision of the government on the recommendations was not communicated to TRAI at all, in the latter case, the entire recommendations were not accepted by the government without communicating the reasons for the same to the authority," the report pointed criticising the UPA I government.

It said considering the regulatory powers envisaged in the TRAI Act, the expertise available at the disposal of the authority and the broad-based consultative process it undertakes prior to formulating its recommendations, "the Committee are of the firm view that the recommendations being made by the Regulator need to be accorded due weightage by the government."

"In the opinion of the committee, an independent regulator cannot be effective if its recommendations are to be left entirely at the mercy of the government. Therefore, the Committee are of the unequivocal view that government should decisively respond to the recommendations of TRAI within a (time frame) as it is currently mandatory for TRAI to respond to a reference by the government within 60 days.

"Such a move will lend more credibility to the role of the regulator which is going to be increasingly crucial in the times ahead. The Committee, therefore, recommend that the TRAI Act be suitably amended to incorporate provisions to ensure that a harmonious balance is maintained between the Regulator and the Licensor in the matter of treating the recommendations from TRAI."

PTI