PM told of spectrum pricing, he had accepted it: Sibal

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was informed about the 2G spectrum pricing in 2007 and he had "accepted" it.

New Delhi: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was informed about
the 2G spectrum pricing in 2007 and he had "accepted" it.

"The Prime Minister was also informed that the issue of
pricing of spectrum was discussed extensively between the
Ministry of Finance and the Department of Telecommunications
in line with the earlier decision of the Cabinet in 2003 which
left the issue of spectrum pricing to be decided by the two
ministers," he told a press conference here.

The Opposition has been demanding Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh`s explanation saying the former telecom
Minister A Raja, who was forced to resign over the alleged
spectrum scam, had claimed that the Prime Minister was in know
of all decisions.

Raja had distributed 122 new licences in January 2008 at
2001 prices of Rs 1,658 crore for pan-India licence and the
government auditor had quantified presumptive revenue loss of
Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.

"The Minister of Telecom (Raja) also consulted the then
External Affairs Minister (Pranab Mukherjee) who was the
Chairman of the EGoM on spectrum issues. Based on these
consultations PM was informed that the Finance Minister (P
Chidambaram) and the DoT after considering all options, had
come to an agreement that the 2G pricing should continue as
before, while 3G spectrum would be auctioned.

"The Prime Minister accepted this outcome regarding
spectrum pricing," Sibal said at the press conference called
to explain that the loss was "nil". He dubbed CAG`s estimation
of presumptive loss as "erroneous".

Giving details of exchange of the correspondence in the
run up to the 2G spectrum allocation in 2008, he said the
Prime Minister had received several suggestions to consider
change in policy in 2007, including a switch to auctions.

The Prime Minister wrote to the Minister of Telecom
(Raja) on 2nd November, 2007 forwarding a summary of the
suggestions received and requested the minister to consider
all the aspects carefully.

"This has been wrongly interpreted in the CAG report as a
direction to act in a particular manner on the issue of
pricing," he said adding "the only direction given by the
Prime Minister was that the Ministry should act in a fair and
transparent manner and keep the PM informed."