The government on Friday turned its guns on the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India, using the dismal failure of the 2G spectrum auction as ammunition. At a joint press conference with finance minister P Chidambaram, telecom minister Kapil Sibal said the CAG's figure of Rs1,76,000 crore as the amount lost through the misallocation of spectrum in 2008 has proved to be a "myth".
Blaming the country's top auditor for "sensationalising" the 2G scam loss figure and subsequently killing the "hen (the telecom sector) that laid golden eggs", Sibal said that policy-making is best left to the government.
"Where are those Rs1,76,000 crore? You cannot extrapolate figures and sensationalise them. Sensationalism took over and the government was limited in its policy prescriptions, which has resulted in what we saw a few days ago," Sibal said.
"Policy is best left to the government. If there is wrong implementation, courts should intervene. But if you bind down the government to prescriptions, results would be negative," Sibal said.
"Dynamics of the market change from year to year. We can't extrapolate figures, sensationalise them and destroy the hen that laid golden eggs," he added.
Pointing out that the government had revised downward the base price suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, "If we had stuck to (TRAI) recommendations, the results would have been worse."
Sibal further said, "Government getting revenue cannot be the sole criterion. What happened in the 3G auction? The government got money but consumers have not benefited at all. Operators have not rolled out services because the nature and the kind of investment that ought to have gone into the sector has stopped and the sector is in debt."