FE view: Dial-a-problem

Industry would do well to hold the champagne with JS Sarma’s exit as Trai chief.

Written by Fe Bureau | New Delhi | Published: May 13, 2012 8:17 pm

Industry would do well to hold the champagne with JS Sarma’s exit as Trai chief. Under the law,government has to refer any doubts it has to Trai once. Once Trai gives its changes,or sticks by its earlier recommendation,govt has to accept it.

In this case,Dr Sarma is reported to have stuck by his recommendation – he will submit his reply to the minister personally. The government is,of course,free to bypass the recommendations entirely. But,given the level of scrutiny today,this is going to be difficult.

If,for instance,government rejects re-farming proposal,you can have a Prashant Bhushan or a CAG alleging lakhs of crore of favours to the older telcos. Similarly,if the government decides to keep a lower reserve price for spectrum,similar charges will be made.

If the Telecom Commission which makes a recommendation to the GoM on it decides to go ahead with a different solution,it will have to prove major flaws in Trai recommendations. As FE had pointed out when the recommendations came,the hike in tariffs wouldn’t have been 3-4 paise,but more likely to be much higher. Similarly,as FE had pointed out,the entire rural telephony program could go for a toss if 900 MHz spectrum has to be substituted by 1800 MHz spectrum. But till government is able to show major flaws in Trai proposals,it can do little but to go by what outgoing Trai chief JS Sarma has said.

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