New Delhi: The government today rejected outright the report that established the 2G spectrum scam as India's largest con-job, and left the government vulnerable to a particularly ferocious attack by the Opposition.
The report by the government's auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), said losses from the allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008 could add upto Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The report pushed A Raja to resign as Telecom Minister in November. (Read: What is 2G spectrum scam?)
Kapil Sibal, who replaced Raja, described the CAG report today as "completely erroneous". While adding that he respects the CAG, Mr Sibal said, "We believe the exercise (by CAG) was fraught with very serious errors which resulted in a kind of sensationalism
which has allowed the Opposition to spread utter falsehood to the people of India and we object to it."
Sacrificing the credibility of the government's auditor, Mr Sibal said, "We are extremely pained at the methodology adopted by CAG. Some figures have no basis whatsoever. But it is human to err and to err is human." (Watch)
In fact, Mr Sibal claims that the 2G allocation in 2008 by Mr Raja did not see any losses at all for the government - a stand that has been attacked by the BJP.
Mr Sibal states that among other mistakes, CAG's calculations have been based on 2010 prices for licenses granted in 2008. He also stresses that CAG assessed the value of 2G spectrum on the basis of 3G spectrum auctioned in May 2010. But 3G spectrum is 3-4 times more efficient than 2G, he stressed, and therefore, when the math is redone, there are no losses at all.
Sibal alleged that there were presumed losses even in 1999, when the then NDA government switched from a license-fee regime to a revenue-share model with telecom companies. The Telecom Minister said his predecessor A Raja's first-come-first-serve policy was also adopted by the NDA in 1999.
"If the entire argument is that there was no loss to the exchequer then why did Raja resign from the Government?" asked senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley. (Read)
The BJP says Mr Sibal has yet to answer why 2G spectrum was sold in 2008 at rates decided in 2001. "Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's entire argument is fallacious. He is just playing with statistics... confusing the position," said Jaitely.