Licences issued in 2003 on FCFS basis ignoring TRAI rec: Panel

Posted By: Pti
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New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) New telecom licenses were issuedin 2003 on first-come-first-serve (FCFS) basis at 2001prices without any guidelines overlooking telecom regulatorTRAI''s recommendations, says the Patil committee report.

"On the basis of letter of Chairman of TRAI (PradeepBaijal) dated November 11, 2003, a decision was taken by theMinister that entry fee for the new applicants would be equalto the entry fee paid by the fourth cellular operator," thereport said.

Retired Justice Shivraj V Patil report went into thetelecom procedures followed for allocation and assignment of2G spectrum during 2001 till 2009.

The licences were to be issued on FCFS basis but noguidelines detailing the procedure to be followed werenotified, it added.

In its communication on November 4, 2003, the report saidthe TRAI had reiterated its recommendations of October 2003that additional players could be introduced throughmulti-stage bidding process.

The report said, "it appears that these recommendationswere not placed before the Telecom Commission (highestdecision making body of Telecom Ministry)."

"Only after deciding on November 17, 2003 and November24, 2003, to follow the procedure applicable to Basic ServiceLicence for granting UASL and also apply FCFS criteria and tocollect entry fee from the new UAS licencees as was paid byfourth cellular operator, the recommendations of TRAI datedNovember 4, 2003 were approved by the Minister on December 22,2003," it said.

After this decision, 28 new UAS licences were issued inthe year 2004.

The report, presented to Telecom Minister Kapil Siballast week, said that all decisions on spectrum allocationsince 2003 by successive governments, including the NDAregime, were procedurally wrong.

The report has been forwarded to CBI, who isinvestigating into the 2G spectrum scam.

Sibal also accepted that the same policy was followed byformer Telecom Minister A Raja and did not change it with amotive, with an intent.

Raja has been facing allegations of having favoured somefirms and tweaked the rules of First-Come, First-Serve to helpthem. In all, 122 licences were given in January 2008 by himbesides giving dual technology licences to Tatas, RCom andothers.

The CAG has estimated a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakhcrore due to sale of licences in 2008.

Sibal had acknowledged Patil''s findings that Raja firstadvanced the cut-off date arbitrarily and then did not followthe policy in letter and spirit.

"...That has made more serious part of the report mainlythe process of implementation of policy. The report suggeststhat this was done with a motive, with an intent," he hadsaid.

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