Deposing before a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), former Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar Thursday said a note dated March 25, 2011 on 2G spectrum came from the Finance Ministry and was sent to the PMO although the idea had emanated from the Cabinet Secretariat.
The note, prepared when Pranab Mukherjee was Finance Minister, sought to suggest that his predecessor
P Chidambaram could have insisted on an auction.
Chandrasekhar was Cabinet Secretary from June 2007 to June 2011. The JPC is examining the pricing and allocation of telecom licences between 1998 and 2009.
JPC chairman P C Chacko quoted Chandrasekhar as saying that the intention was to present a “holistic picture in a chronological manner” so that all wings of the government could form a “common view.” But Chandrasekhar felt that “certain assumptions and points,” made in the note in addition to facts, “could have been avoided”.
Chandrasekhar told the JPC it was not expected that there would be any inputs from the Cabinet Secretariat. “I never asked for or saw the note prepared in the matter by the Ministry of Finance since I considered it to be an internal note of that Ministry,” he was quoted as having said.
Asked why Chandra-sekhar never got to see a note prepared at his behest, Chacko reiterated what the former bureaucrat had told the panel and maintained it was not routed through the Cabinet Secretariat and was sent by the Finance Ministry directly to the PMO.
Chandrasekhar said he had written a note to the PM on December 4, 2007 suggesting the licence fee for 2G spectrum allocation be enhanced to Rs 35,000 crore. The PM, according to Chandrasekhar, had asked him to look into the issue of financial implications of the TRAI recommendations on 2G allocation .
Chandrasekhar made the suggestion for a higher licence fee so that the spectrum could fetch the government more revenue. But he said it was for the DoT to take the call.
Members asked why his opinion was not accepted. Chandrasekhar said that the PM had sought views from other sources also. He maintained it was for the government to decide what was best for the “common good”.