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Sibal says $40 bn spectrum loss estimate 'utterly erroneous'

Friday January 07, 2011 09:09:39 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Friday said the methodology adopted by the official auditor was "utterly erroneous" while arriving at the estimate of Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion) as the loss in awarding telecom airwaves in 2008.

Sibal also slammed the opposition for disrupting the entire winter session of parliament and spreading what he termed as "utter falsehood" to the people of the country, having themselves framed the policy for award of airwaves, or spectrum, during their tenure.

"Though we respect the exercise of that constitutional authority's power, we do believe the exercise was flawed with serious errors, which has allowed the opposition to spread utter falsehood to the people of the country," he told a press conference here.

His reference was to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India which said the government's policy on spectrum allocation for second generation (2G) telecom services had caused a loss of between $12.8 billion and $40 billion to the exchequer.

"The figure of Rs.1.76 lakh crore is so utterly erroneous that I would have thought that a complicated and complex issue like this should not have led to the conclusion of this magnitude, which has embarrassed the government and the nation," he said.

"The loss is Zero, nil," he said, refuting the audit estimate point-by-point.

"The Comptroller and Auditor General has done injustice to itself, and the opposition is doing injustice to the aam aadmi," he said.


"We believe that the exercise was fraught with errors. We object to that," he said.

"If there is proof of any wrongdoing or criminal offence, the law will take its course," the minister, who is a lawyer by profession, said adding: "We are not here to protect or defend anyone."

Sibal's predecessor A. Raja was forced to resign in November after the official auditor indicted him in the spectrum allocation saga. The saga also blocked legislative business with the opposition unrelenting in its demand for a parliamentary probe.

Sibal said as per the 10th Five Year Plan document, that was drafted during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime between 1998 and 2004, the growth of telecom sector was more important than revenues from the award of spectrum.

"Today they say revenue is important," he said, adding the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, since it came to power in May 2004, has only been following the policy set by the previous regime.







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