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JPC asks CAG to explain how 2G loss is Rs.1.76 lakh crore

Thursday May 19, 2011 09:33:39 PM, IANS

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JPC examining NDA's 1999 telecom policy, summons Sorabjee

The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G licences by jailed former communications minister A. Raja is now digging into the old telecom files dating back to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in 1999.  »

New Delhi: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing the alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum licences Thursday decided to call the government auditor to explain on what basis it calculated the loss to the exchequer to be Rs.1.76 crore.

Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai "will be coming before the committee on May 30", JPC chairman P.C. Chacko told reporters.

"He will explain the Rs.1.76 crore scam and how the CAG has arrived at the figure," Chacko said, referring to the latest report of the auditor that suggested jailed former IT and communication minister A. Raja, who is alleged to have sold the licences to private firms at throwaway prices, caused a presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore.

During its second meeting since formation in February, the JPC also decided to call officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence June 7-8.

These agencies are also probing the alleged 2G scam which is said to be the biggest financial scandal in the history of independent India.

The JPC will start examining the witnesses from June 29.

In its first meeting Wednesday, the panel started to examine the telecom policy during the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule to calculate the losses suffered during that period.

The committee has asked Telecom Secretary R. Chandrashekhar to quantify the losses suffered because of the migration policy for operators announced by the National Democratic Alliance government in 1999.

Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee, who had favoured the National Telecom Policy 1999, will also be summoned before the committee.

In 1999, the telecom ministry headed by the BJP's Pramod Mahajan shifted from a fixed licence fee model - when operators had to pay an annual fee of over Rs.2,000 crore - to a revenue-sharing arrangement under which fees ranged between Rs.5 crore and Rs.10 crore.

The 2000 report of the CAG said the shift caused a huge loss to the exchequer.

On Thursday, Telecom Secretary Chandrashekhar and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman J. Sarma, who appeared before the 30-member committee, separately gave detailed briefings on the history of India's telecom policy.

The panel members also went into matters related to the telecom business, allocation of spectrum and its pricing between 1998 and 2008.




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