Ex-Cab Secy suggested 4-fold 2G entry fee

Ex-Cab Secy suggested 4-fold 2G entry fee

Move would have allowed govt to earn Rs 35,000 cr

Ex-Cab Secy suggested 4-fold 2G entry fee

In a major revelation in the 2G spectrum scam saga, former Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekar on Thursday said that he had favoured a steep hike in entry fee for radio waves allotted in 2008, which would have earned Rs 35,000 crore or four times more revenue to the government.

The notional loss to the exchequer from spectrum allotment has been put at Rs 1.76 lakh crore.  

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dated December 4, 2007, the former bureaucrat said he had favoured steep increase in the entry fee citing inflation, expanded base of mobile users and other related factors.  Interestingly, the retired official’s recommendation would have meant almost four times more revenue than the price at which then Telecom Minister A Raja sold spectrum. In January 2008, Raja allotted spectrum on first come first serve basis for an entry fee of Rs 1,658 crore, which earned the government kitty about Rs 9,000 crore.

Chandrashekar,  Cabinet Secretary between June 2007 to June 2011, in his deposition before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing 2G spectrum scam said, at the behest of PM, he had convened a meeting and suggested that the Secretaries of Telecom and Finance Ministries sort out the issue of spectrum pricing.

“He (Chandrashekar) had suggested enhancing the entry fee keeping in view factors like increased tele density, inflation and increased consumer base," JPC Chairman P C Chacko told reporters after the meeting.

However, Chandrashekar insisted that his suggestion need not be taken as final as the Department of Telecom is the competent authority to decide. Moreover, the allocation did not amount to any loss.

On the controversial March 25, 2011 note which suggested that then Finance Minister P Chidambaram could have insisted on auction, Chandrasekhar told the JPC that the note was entirely an internal document of the Finance Ministry. As the note was prepared by the Finance Ministry and submitted to the PM’s Office, he did not read it, he said. 

On Thursday too, BJP members abstained from the panel proceedings insisting that PM Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram should be summoned for deposition. Chacko said an exclusive meeting of the panel would be convened to thrash out this issue. Ruling out asking the PM to appear before the panel, he said if majority members approve, the FM alone would be summoned.