Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2G spectrum scam: Some highlights of CAG report

New Delhi:  The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the allotment of 2G Spectrum licences, tabled in the Lok Sabha today, has held former Telecom Minister A Raja responsible on many fronts for violating guidelines, indulging in favouritism and costing the government Rs. 1.76 lakh crores by mishandling the allocation of the 2G spectrum in 2008. 

The report, bits of which had become known in the days before it was tabled, has the Opposition parties up in arms and demanding a joint parliamentary committee inquiry. Parliament has not functioned for a single day in the Winter session with the Opposition forcing adjournments.

CAG must ensure reports are fair: PM

New Delhi:  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports are taken very seriously and that places greater responsibility on the auditor to ensure that the reports are balanced and fair. 

The PM said this at a CAG conference and only a little after the CAG report on the 2G scam and former Telecom Minister A Raja's role was tabled in Parliament. 

The government auditor, the Prime Minister said, needed to distinguish between bonafide errors and deliberate mistakes and ensure that its reports are "accurate, balanced and fair."

Very often, he said, "there is a very thin line between fair criticism and fault finding, between hazarding a guess and making a reasonable estimate, between a bonafide error and a deliberate mistake.

2G scam: Supreme Court to hear plea against Raja today

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court is expected to decide today whether the Prime Minister's nod is needed to prosecute former Telecom Minister A Raja who resigned from the post late on Sunday evening.

The top court will hear two petitions against Raja on the 2G spectrum scam.

Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy sought the court's intervention on grounds that his application before the PM seeking his sanction to prosecute A Raja for corruption is pending for the last two years.

The petitioner told the court that there is no need for the PM's nod since Raja has resigned as a minister. The other plea is by petitioner Prashant Bhushan on the CAG report on licences issued to ineligible companies at 2001 prices.

During the last hearing on October 29, the Supreme Court had slammed the CBI for its "slipshod" investigations into the 2G Spectrum allocation issue and even wondered how Raja was continuing in office.
       
The Telecom ministry had claimed that new licenses and 2G Spectrum was distributed as per the existing policy which were followed by all the predecessors of Raja.

Karunanidhi: CAG should evaluate not only process, but outcome

New Delhi:  It was the Comptroller and Auditor General's report (CAG) that led to his minister, A Raja, exiting the government.  And on the day when that report on the 2G spectrum scam was tabled in parliament, DMK chief, M Karunanidhi, shared his message for CAG.

At a function in Chennai to mark 150 years of the CAG, Karunanidhi sent a statement that was read out by his son, MK Stalin.

Karunanidhi declared, "You have the valuable gift of power to criticize and such unfettered power comes with responsibility. It's your bounden duty that this task is carried out in the best possible manner and in public interest alone." 

The DMK is standing by Raja, insisting that his resignation does not mean that the party has accepted his guilt. After stepping down on Sunday evening, Raja said he should be credited with leading a telecom revolution in the country. He said his decision to award licenses at cheap rates in 2008 led to a massive increase in tele-density, allowing millions of Indians to benefit.  

Echoing that line, Karunanidhi said today, "CAG audit will be useful if they could evaluate not only inputs and process but also outputs and outcome. "

2G spectrum scam: Raja ignored PM's advice, says CAG report

New Delhi:  The report that pushed A Raja through the exit door of the Telecom Ministry has been tabled in the Lok Sabha. Prepared by the government's auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the document holds Raja responsible on many fronts for violating guidelines, indulging in favouritism and costing the government Rs. 1.76  lakh crores by mishandling the allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008.

There were loud and angry scenes in Parliament once again today, courtesy the Opposition - the Lok Sabha has been adjourned till Thursday, since tomorrow is a national holiday for Eid.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met senior BJP leader LK Advani in the latter's office to discuss a possible end to the stand-off in Parliament. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal was at the meeting too.

CAG report not final, says Moily

Law Minister M Veerappa Moily  on Friday said the report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on 2G spectrum allocation cannot be called an indictment of Telecom Minister A Raja , as claimed by opposition, as it is not final. 

"You cannot call it an indictment. It is not a final report. Technically no one can call it indictment," Moily told PTI here, adding he had not seen any minister resigning following a CAG report. 

But at the same time, he hastened to add that the CAG report has "weightage" as it is by a constitutional body. The CAG report is actually a query raised by the institution on a particular ministry, the minister stressed. 

"CAG is an important institution to safeguard the interests of the exchequer. There is a process involved under which queries are raised by the CAG following which the opinion of the particular ministry or department is obtained. Then the report is presented to Parliament and becomes its property," he said. 

Moily said then the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) selects a particular paragraph in the report for discussion and then it becomes the right of a particular ministry to give a reply to the PAC. 

To a question on Opposition onslaught on the Telecom Minister, he said "in a healthy democracy you cannot find fault with the opposition. But this does not mean that a particular ministry is actually wrong". 

He said the CAG had raised similar queries when late Pramod Mahajan  was the Communications Minister in the NDA government. "NDA did not volunteer to make him resign... I have no memory of a minister who has resigned following a CAG report," Moily said.

2G scam: CAG report tabled in Lok Sabha, indicts Raja

NEW DELHI: The Government on Tuesday tabled the much-talked about report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on 2G spectrum allocation, whose reported extracts stirred a major political storm and forced resignation of telecom minister A Raja. 

The CAG indicted former telecom minister A Raja for ignoring the advice of Prime Minister, finance and law ministries to allocate 2G spectrum to new players in 2008 causing a whopping revenue loss of over Rs 1.76 lakh crore. 

The Performance Audit Report on the Issue of Licences and Allocation of 2G spectrum by the department of telecommunications was tabled in the Lok Sabha by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. 

DMK's scheme runs into scam / DMK's land-for-poor scheme runs into scam

In probably one of the biggest land scams exposed in Tamil Nadu, a Headlines Today investigation has found that under an ambitious scheme of the DMK government the plots meant for poor people were grabbed by greedy land sharks of the state.

The scheme was meant to help landless farmers of the state, but it turned into a Rs 200 crore scam. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had in 2006 announced the scheme under which over 2 lakh acre land was to be distributed equally among agricultural labourers of the state.

However, four years later, Headlines Today exposes how the promises made by the DMK government turned out to be a farce. The land earmarked for the poor has now been in the possession of the rich and the mighty.

Reports about contesting from Kolathur speculative: Tamil Nadu CM

Chennai, Nov 15 : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi today dismissed as speculation reports that he would contest from Kolathur Assembly Constituency in the city in the coming Assembly elections.

Answering questions, he said the reports, in a section of the media that he would contest from Kolathur, were imaginary and had no basis.

He said he had won from Chepauk constituency in the city during the last three elections and there were speculations about the constituency from which he would contest in the 2011 Assembly elections.

All these reports were speculative and imaginary, and had no basis, he said, adding the media, carrying speculative reports using the freedom of press, does not augur well for the development of democracy.

Mr Karunanidhi congratulated Mr Rajarajan, an artist of Puducherry University for bringing to life the town of Poompuhar submerged under sea in his drawing.

Low pressure to bring more rains to coastal Tamil Nadu

Chennai, Nov 15 : Exactly a week after Cyclone 'Jal' brought copious rains to Coastal Tamil Nadu, a new Low Pressure area has formed over the South East Bay, which was expected to bring in more showers during the next 24 hours.

Weather office sources said here the low pressure area over South East Bay, lay about 900 to 1000 km from Chennai. It was expected to become more marked.

Under its influence, rain or thundershowers were expected to occur at many places over Coastal Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.

Heavy rains were also likely in one or two places over CoastalTamil Nadu and at a few places over interior Tamil Nadu during the same period.

Chennai city and suburbs, which had been receiving scattered showers, was expected to have generally cloudy skies, with one or two spells of rain.

Chenani city and suburbs, the coastal districts and the Cauvery delta area had received heavy rains under the influence of cyclone 'Jal' last week.

However, it had lost steam and crossed the coast between Chennai and Nellore on November 7, not before it left a trail of havoc, causing damage to roads and uprooting trees in several areas.

Jaya offer to Cong led UPA had little significance: Karunanidhi

Chennai, Nov 15 : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi today said opposition AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa's offer of support to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had little significance and was only aimed at creating confusion.

Reacting to a section of the media hailing Ms Jayalalithaa for her support to the UPA government, in the event of DMK withdrawing support to it, Mr Karunanidhi said the AIADMK leader's offer had no basis. It was only aimed at creating confusion both in Tamil Nadu and national politics.

Ms Jayalalithaa's announcement neither had meaning nor was it appropriate but a section of media in the state was ready to hail the AIADMK leader for her ''political acumen and diplomacy'' and try to hoodwink the public, he alleged, adding, ''Even AIADMK partymen will not be decieved by this.'' In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, Ms Jayalalithaa came out with a slew of announcements, but her political diplomacy failed to win her the elections, he alleged.

Again in the 2006 Assembly elections, Ms Jayalalithaa had tried her best, but again failed, he pointed out.

D-day for Raja, CAG report to be tabled in Parliament

Government will table in Parliament on Tuesday (November 16) the much-talked about report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on 2G spectrum allocation whose reported extracts stirred a major political storm and forced resignation of Telecom Minister A Raja.

The Performance Audit Report on the Issue of Licences and Allocation of 2G Spectrum by the Department of Telecommunications will be tabled in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, officials said.

Presentation of the reoprt is expected to provide fresh fodder to the Opposition which is not satisfied with Raja's resignation and is pressing for Joint Parliamentary probe to unearth the entire scam, a demand rejected by the government.

The BJP and its allies as also the Left parties, AIADMK, SP and RJD are demanding that a JPC should examine the issue in the backdrop of reported contention by the CAG that the
Telecom Ministry caused a loss to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the national exchequer by allocating 2G spectrum at under-valued prices.

The government has expressed readiness to discuss the CAG report after it is tabled in Parliament.

Raja's office hits at predecessors over spectrum

Former Telecom Minister A Raja's office today hit at his predecessors including Dayanidhi Maran and Arun Shourie for alloting 150 Mhz of additional spectrum beyond 4.4 Mhz, and up to 6.2 Mhz without any upfront charge.

"What is the value of 150 Mhz today?" asked the document, that was prepared to be distributed among the Members of Parliament today.

Titled "Kissa Spectrum Ka", the document says that another 90 Mhz of spectrum was distributed among the handful of operators beyond 6.2 Mhz again without any upfront charges, thereby benefiting the private players at the cost of public exchequer.