New Delhi: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Monday termed as "factually incorrect" a media report which suggested that it had agreed with the then Telecom Minister A Raja's actions in 2007 before 2G scam and said the notings cited in the report could not be construed as the Prime Minister or his office looking the other way.
The PMO issued a press statement to say that it was "well known" at that time that there were conflicting interests between existing operators and new entrants and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had "felt that this matter required detailed examination and deliberation by the Department of Telecom in consultation with TRAI and others."
It said the Prime Minister had "felt that, under the circumstances, it was not appropriate for the Prime Minister's Office to pronounce on the matter till the subject had been carefully considered by the administrative ministry in consultation with TRAI and other concerned departments."
Therefore, "it was sent as an informal suggestion to the Department of Telecom for consideration." The statement insisted that the "noting under question can in no way be construed to mean that the Prime Minister or his office looked the other way on matters relating to the grant of licence or spectrum charges etc.
"It related solely to the manner in which the approach summarized above should be conveyed to the Department of Telecom to be considered on merits without being viewed as a direction from the Prime Minister or his office."
The PMO said its note, on which the noting cited was recorded, proposed consideration of an approach which included fixing of a 'threshold' level of spectrum that each operator must have in order to function with a minimum level of efficiency. The approach also provided that the existing operators holding spectrum above the threshold level may be allowed a certain amount of time to raise the subscriber levels to reach full utilization of spectrum, failing which the excess spectrum may be withdrawn, the PMO statement said.
The note also proposed that new operators may be allotted spectrum only up to the threshold level on payment of the normal fees and the balance spectrum may then be auctioned among all those who hold spectrum up to the threshold level.
"The proposal of the Prime Minister's Office was to forward these suggestions to the Department of Telecom for further consideration on the basis of individual consultations with the main players and TRAI," the statement said.
It insisted that the media report was "selectively repeat of what was already known and was clarified both by Prime Minister in Parliament and in the Press Release of July 31, 2011." The PMO reproduced the statements made by the Prime Minister in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on the issue in which he clearly stated the "concern about wrongdoings was not about the first-come first-served policy but the manner in which it was implemented and whether it was implemented appropriately."