Govt, Cong attack CAG over spectrum loss figure

After the 2G spectrum auction turned into a damp squib, both the government and the Congress on Thursday came down heavily on the CAG and questioned the veracity of its report that estimated a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the controversial spectrum allocation in 2008.

“Mr CAG, where is the 1.76 lakh crore?” Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari asked, wondering why the spectrum auction had not yielded anything close to the loss estimated by the national auditor in its report. He suggested CAG Vinod Rai to introspect on his process of auditing.

The minister also used the opportunity to take on Opposition parties who tried their best to put the government on the backfoot over the issue in the wake of the damning report in 2010.

“It is high time the BJP and some of the other opposition parties, who had made this their holy grail and swansong of politics over the last two years, publicly apologised,” he said.

The CAG had in its 2010 report projected a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the allocation of 2G spectrum by the then Telecom Minister A Raja, citing non-auctioning as its reason. The allocations were then made on first-come-first-served basis. The Supreme Court later cancelled all 122 licences allotted by Raja and ordered the government to allot spectrum by auctioning.

However, when it took place, the 2G spectrum auction virtually flopped with just Rs 9,407 crore being collected in the process, contrary to the high valuation estimated by the CAG in its report two years ago.

Following this, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said: “The CAG should reconsider how far its estimate was right with regard to the report, which it had earlier given and the losses that it had computed.” He dismissed the suggestion that the auction yielding less revenue was a  reflection of disenchantment of the telecom companies with the government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, came out in CAG’s support.

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