Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor D Subbarao on Monday told a Delhi court it could not be said the state had “suffered a loss” in the 2G spectrum allocation in 2008, as in a policy decision the Centre had to make a balance, even at the cost of sacrificing revenue. However, in the beginning of his deposition, he said he had questioned the fixing of around Rs 1,600 crore as spectrum fees by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) for pan-India telecom licence in 2007.
“It is correct that while determining policy, the government has to make a balance between welfare maximisation and revenue maximisation. In this case, if there was a sacrifice of some revenue, it cannot be said the government suffered a loss,” Subbarao, who was depositing as a prosecution witness in the 2G case, told the court while being cross examined by the defence counsel.
Subbarao, who was the finance secretary from April 2007 to September 2008, told the court that by June 2008, it was agreed between the Department of Telecom (DoT) and the finance ministry that start-up spectrum would not be charged, and only spectrum beyond start-up spectrum would be charged.
Initially, the finance ministry had argued that entire spectrum, including start-up spectrum, should be charged. However, during the discussions, DoT had said charging for the entire spectrum would be problematic and “legally questionable” on a number of grounds, the RBI governor told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.
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