JPC examines telecom policy of NDA govt

New Delhi: The Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G spectrum scam on Wednesday began examining the telecom policy pursued during the NDA rule as it sought to know the quantum of losses incurred during that period and decided to summon the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee in this connection.

At its second meeting since being set up in February, the JPC headed by Congress leader P C Chacko went into matters related to the telecom policy, allocation of spectrum and its pricing between 1998 and 2008.

Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar, who appeared before the 30-member Committee, gave a detailed briefing on the issue tracing the history of the present telecom policy.

Several members raised pointed questions on the changes in telecom policy in the NDA rule that allowed operators to migrate from fixed license fee regime to the revenue sharing model.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Chacko said the Comptroller and Auditor General report of 2000 clearly stated that the change in policy had caused a "huge loss" to the exchequer.

The CAG had then expressed its inability to quantify the losses and details of the license fees and concession offered to operators in the wake of migration policy were not available, he said.

"Since the figures are available now, the Committee has directed the Telecom Secretary to quantify the losses," Chacko said.

Noting that the Cabinet decision of July 6, 1999 to change the policy was based on the advise of the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, the Committee has decided to call him as a witness.

In reply to a question, Chacko said technically there was no bar on calling Committee members as witnesses. He was referring to BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh, who are members of the JPC and were part of the NDA Cabinet in 1999 when the decision was taken.

"So far we have not felt the need to call cabinet ministers," he said. .