Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lok Satta demands bidding for Telecom licenses

The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the Delhi High Court judgment declaring the allocation of 2G licenses as illegal arbitrary and said the Government of India should seize the opportunity to cancel all the licenses already issued and issue fresh licenses on the basis of international competitive bidding.

The Telecom Department had initially invited applications for allocation of licenses and spectrum up to October 1, 2007. But on January 10, 2008 it declared that applications received up to September 25 would be eligible for licenses. The advancement of the date benefited eight companies. Of them, two companies – Unitech Wireless and Swan Telecom – who were awarded licenses sold them at huge valuations.

The arbitrary advancement of date left the applications of 16 companies, including that of AT&T of the U. S. in limbo. One of the aggrieved companies approached the Delhi High Court. A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has now upheld the judgment delivered by a single judge earlier.

Talking to the media, party spokespersons Mr.YD Rama Rao, V.Laxman Balaji, Panduranga Rao, Mrs. Saroja Devi recalled that the Government of India had already instituted a CBI inquiry into the allocation of 2G licenses following charges that the Government been defrauded of huge revenue because of arbitrary allocation.

“Whether it is grant of the telecom spectrum or leases for natural resources like iron ore, bauxite and coal, only international competitive bidding will eliminate scope for favoritism and corruption and ensure that the exchequer does not suffer avoidable revenue loss. The first-come-first-served policy lends itself to be grossly abused.”

The Lok Satta President, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, will be shortly writing to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and floor leaders of all parties in both Houses of Parliament seeking the formulation of a comprehensive policy on grant of licenses for telecom spectrum or mining of natural resources so that the scope of private gain and windfall profits is eliminated and the Governments both at the Center and in States do not suffer any revenue losses.

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