Government refutes impropriety charges in spectrum allocation (Lead)

November 7th, 2008 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) Following the charge by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that the allocation of radio frequency to mobile telecom operators had resulted in a $13-billion loss to the exchequer, the government Friday said promoters of the contract winners, Swan Telecom and Unitech, had not sold out but had merely issued new shares and brought foreign investment into the country.”Regarding the sale of shares by Swan and Unitech, the foreign buyers have entered into agreements to subscribe to the new equity shares of the company and no share of the founding promoters of this company has been sold,” Communications and IT minister A. Raja told reporters here.

He said the New Telecom Policy of 1999 (NTP 99) has been the bedrock of issuance of licence and allocation of spectrum.

Swan Telecom and Unitech sold stakes in their companies and booked huge profits after successfully bidding for new spectrum.

In a statement Thursday, the CPI-M said the “first-come-first serve” principle adopted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had also resulted in a loss of Rs.60,000 crore (Rs.600 billion or $13.2 billion) to the exchequer.

The party said it was “shocked that the UPA government, instead of addressing the huge scam that has taken place in the allocation of the fourth licence in 2G mobile services, has taken the position that nothing needs to be done”.

Addressing this allegation, Raja said in 2007-08 alone, the government earned approximately Rs.120 billion (Rs.12,000 crore) as license fees and spectrum charges.

Moreover, he said, the one-time charge that has been levied for spectrum beyond 6.2 megahertz (MHz) will fetch the exchequer about Rs.40 billion (Rs.4,000 crore).

“The government is also planning to charge a fee of 1-2 percent of mobile operators’ revenue for using additional airwaves,” Raja said.

The government Tuesday decided to charge one percent of gross revenue of telecom operators for holding eight megahertz (MHz) of radio frequency for second generation (2G) services.

Raja, in his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Tuesday, discussed levying one percent average gross revenue (AGR) for holding eight MHz and about two percent AGR above eight MHz.

According to the minister, the additional charges will generate almost Rs.50 billion (Rs.5,000 crore) and therefore, there was no case of a loss to the government in any way.

He said since the introduction of revenue sharing regime in 1999, the government has received more than Rs.500 billion (Rs.50,000 crore) on account of only licence fee.

As for allegations regarding favouritism towards Swan, he said second generation (2G) mobile spectrum anywhere in the world has not been auctioned.

“We too have followed the guidelines of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India giving it (2G) on a first come, first serve basis.

“Also, the deal has got the country foreign investment and has not filled any person’s pocket,” he said.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sci-Tech |