I had nothing to do with 2G pricing: Pranab

PTI New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

The Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee. (file photo)   -  Business Line

The Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, today rejected suggestions that he had anything to do with the pricing of 2G spectrum and hit out at those spreading “disinformation” on the issue.

In 2007, when he was the External Affairs Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee had been appointed as the Chairman of a Group of Ministers (GoM) on vacation of 3G spectrum which, he said, had nothing to do with 2G and its pricing.

The GoM was for vacation of spectrum by the Defence and para-military forces and the Communications Ministry for mobile telephony and other issues. Pricing was not part of the mandate of the GoM, he said.

“In a nutshell, I had nothing to do with the pricing of 2G spectrum,” he told PTI in an interview during which he deprecated attempts to spread “a lot of disinformation” on 2G spectrum targeting ministers.

The job of the GoM headed by him was on vacation of the spectrum and “how can you bring pricing and other things (of 2G spectrum) here”, he said.

“So far as pricing and other things concerned, it was not part of the mandate of the GoM,” he emphasised.

The terms of reference of the GoM was changed at the insistence of the nodal ministry and how could anyone conclude there was manipulation of pricing, he said with reference to reports that he had been aware of such manipulation.

In November 2007, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had asked Mr Pranab Mukherjee to apprise himself of the issues raised by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and GSM operators challenging the criteria for allocation of additional GSM spectrum.

The issues had been raised with the then Telecom Minister, Mr A. Raja, and the then Solicitor General, Mr G.E. Vahanvati, in the context of proceedings pending in the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

The Finance Minister said in this context he held a meeting with Mr Raja and Mr Vahanvati in the first week of December 2007.

Mr Vahanvati had explained that the existing operators were insisting on allocation of additional GSM spectrum on the basis of March 2006 guidelines which they contended were adequate.

There was no substance in this contention in view of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended revised criteria which were stricter.

Mr Vahanvati had explained to him that as per the directions of the TDSAT, an affidavit had been filed in November 2007 indicating the way forward.

Published on July 30, 2011

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