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Implementation of telecom policy may be faulty: PM

Last updated on: February 24, 2011 15:46 IST

Implementation of telecom policy may be faulty: PM

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Notwithstanding with controversies surrounding the 2G spectrum allocation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday defened the telecom policy in place but admitted that implementation may be faulty.

Citing statistics of teledensity which has gone up from seven per cent in March 2004 to 66 per cent in December, 2010, Singh said the policy has paid 'rich dividends'.

Asserting that auction for 2G spectrum was not considered in 2007 as the concerned ministry had opposed it and was supported by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, he said, "I felt that for level playing field, it was entirely appropriate that we should continue on the path which we had followed until 2007.

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"Then subsequently it turned out to be that while the policy was sound, the way it was implemented, I think, gave rise to problems," Singh said in Lok Sabha replying to motion of thanks to the President for her address to Parliament.

He said all the problems relating to the 2G spectrum allocation will be looked into by the Joint Parliamentary Committee besides Public Account Committee and if there are any criminal aspects, they are being looked into by the CBI.

"Our government will fully cooperate with all these agencies and with all these entities to ensure that truth comes out and the guilty are punished," he said.

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The government auditor Comptroller and Auditor General has quantified revenue loss of over Rs 1.76 lakh crore (Rs 1.76 trillon) to the exchequer due to sale of 2G airwaves in 2008 by the former Telecom Minister A Raja, who was arrested by the CBI earlier this month amid charges of his alleged involvement in manipulating the policy to favour select industrial houses.

As many as 122 licences were issued in January 2008 and most of the firms are yet to roll out mandatory services as stipulated in the licence's terms and conditions.

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The Telecom Ministry has, meanwhile, issued show cause notices to telecom firms on charges of missing roll out obligations and also for suppressing information at the time of applying for licences in 2007.

Even CAG had pointed out that most of the 122 licences were ineligible for getting licences and had asked the government to cancel these contracts.

The Prime Minister said, "People talk of scams and if there is a scam, it must be dealt with.

The law of the land must punish the wrong doers but we must not overlook also the fact of this tremendous growth of the telecom sector which has taken place as a result of sound policies pursued by our government."


Image: A customer examines his Apple iPhone 3G in Kolkata.
Photographs: Reuters
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