Centre seeking to change auction terms to benefit telecoms: Congress

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As per the CAG report, the notional loss in the allocation of 2G spectrum was to the tune of Rs 1.25 lakh crore.

He further said, "The Central Government ignored the norms of auction, and now, instead of thirteen years, they will give back the money in nineteen years".

Congress asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the finance and telecom ministries to come clean on the issue. He claimed that the Union cabinet has firmed up the decision on deferring the recovery "after inter-ministerial consultations".

Alleging that the spectrum sale in 2016 was a setback to the government, he said underwriters expected to raise Rs 80,000 crore and "there was a shortfall of Rs 14,281 crore vis-a-vis expectation".

The Congress communication department head, Randeep Surjewala, said the government has unilaterally and surreptitiously deferred recovery of the spectrum auction amount by six years.

He said the terms of auction required an upfront payment of 50% (1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bends) or 25% (700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz) of the final bid amount and the balance in 13 years - no payment for first the three years up to August 26, 2019, and thereafter, 10 equal annual instalments. "To this extent, the auction amount was less by Rs 33,206 crore".

There were three successful bidders, he said.

The Telecom Commission last week extended the duration for spectrum payments to 16 years from 10 years in line with the recommendation of an inter-ministerial group set up by the government. "The auction policy was decided by the Supreme Court.it was unequivocally laid down that state should have no discretion in allotment of natural resources like spectrum", he added.

The Congress on Wednesday accused the BJP government of promoting "crony capitalism" to help a few telecom companies.

He added the government can not amend the terms of auction "to grant benefits that are neither legally nor contractually permissible".

"The BJP governments plea that the three telecom companies are facing adverse financial condition arising on account of competitive pressure can not be a ground to alter terms of auction to provide relief to them", he added.

"Who benefits from this new governance model of the BJP government?" he asked.

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