JPC not to ask govt to put on hold decision on 2G entry fee

Written by: Pti
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2G Scam
New Delhi, Jun 3: Despite demands from some of its members, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on telecom will not ask the government to put on hold any decision on TRAI recommendation on 2G spectrum auction till it forms an opinion on the issue.

JPC Chairman PC Chacko is learnt to have told members that he is not mandated to ask the government to put on hold any decision on TRAI recommendations on 2G auction pricing.

At a recent JPC meeting, Congress, BJP and CPI members had urged Chacko to ask the government to put on hold any decision on enhanced entry fees for 2G spectrum auction.

The JPC members told Chacko the committee should first question the just-retired TRAI chairperson JS Sarma, who has recommended a nearly 10-fold hike in the base price for 2G airwaves, and present incumbent Rahul Khullar.

The TRAI recommendation was made when Sarma was its chief. They had said that till JPC decides on the TRAI recommendations, the government should not take a call on it.

Sources said the panel chief was of the view that the Committee cannot overstep its mandate - which is to suggest prescription to government on future telecom policy.

He is understood to have said that the JPC can present a report to Parliament and not ask government against taking a decision on policy issues.

Sarma and Khullar had appeared before the JPC on May 29 and had defended the steep minimum price for auction of 2G spectrum saying the technology has undergone a "sea change" since 2008 and assured that consumers would not be affected much as they will have to pay a maximum of five paisa extra per call.

Though the telecom regulator's recommendations of this year are beyond the mandate of JPC, it was decided to understand the issue as it pertained to 2G spectrum.

The Committee is mandated to examine policy prescriptions successive governments in the allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum from 1998 to 2009 and to make recommendations to ensure formulation of appropriate procedures in the allocation and pricing of telecom licences.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recently recommended to auction 2G spectrum at a base price of Rs 3,622 crore for a megahertz of spectrum at pan-India level which is around 10 times higher than the price for 2G licences in 2008.


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