NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to hold a meeting with senior Cabinet ministers to discuss the Supreme Court order cancelling 122 2G spectrum licences. The court has ordered that the cancelled licenses have to be reassigned through an auction process within four months.
Going by the buzz here on Friday, the PM is expected to discuss the fallout of the cancellation of 2G licences and its impact on the telecom sector. Sources have hinted that formulating of new guidelines for the sector will be discussed. The government is expected to take a call on a number of issues: whether to go for a review or to cancel the 2G spectrum licenses issued before 2008 and also to decide whether to levy additional charges on the telecom companies that were granted free spectrum to create a level-playing field. Apart from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, Law Minister Salman Khurshid is also expected to attend the meeting. The Prime Minister’s Office, however, tried hard to play down the meeting saying, “2G is only one of the issues on the agenda, it will be taken up only if the Law Minister manages to come back from UP. He is expected to bring the Attorney General’s views with him.”
The PMO also insisted that the ministers were themselves coming to meet the PM to take stock of the current situation, which includes the reprieve it got on the Army Chief’s age issue. On why Home Minister P Chidambaram, who’s part of the Congress core group, is not attending Saturday’s meeting, it was said, “He is going south.”
A senior Cabinet minister, however, did not deny that 2G issue has to be resolved without much ado as a court-prescribed deadline is hanging over the government head. “It is true, we do not have too much time, a fresh guidelines have to put in place,” he said.
Already, companies like Norway-based Telenor, which picked up 67 per cent stake from Unitech at the cost of `1,600 crore to set up Uninor Wireless, have termed that the cancellation of licenses is an irrational punishment. Unitech is in the thick of the 2G controversy as it has been charged with criminal conspiracy and cheating with former Telecom Minister A Raja.
Hit hard by the verdict, Uninor has since moved at a diplomatic level and Norway IT Minister met his Indian counterpart Kapil Sibal last Tuesday.
Similarly, Russian Communication Minister Ignor Shchyogolev is scheduled to visit India to express the country’s concern over its investments in the Indian telecom company, SSTL.