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No reason why spectrum should not be auctioned; says CCI chief

india Updated: Mar 04, 2012 13:14 IST

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There is "no logical reason" as to why scarce resource like spectrum should not be auctioned, competition commission of India chairman Ashok Chawla, who headed a high-level panel on allocation of natural resources, said today.

"Where there is extremely high level of demand and resources are scarce, for instance spectrum, then there is no logical reason why it should not be auctioned," Chawla told PTI in an interview.

However, the former finance secretary added, "Auction cannot be a panacea for everything (all other natural resources) and there will have to be some calibration".

The Chawla-headed committee had submitted a report on allocation of natural resources to the government last May.

While he supported the revenue-generating auction route for telecom radio waves, his views on other natural resources, are in sync with the contention made by the government in the review petition filed before the Supreme Court.

The apex court had cancelled 122 licences awarded to telecom service providers in 2008 and said that allocation of natural resources should be done through auction route.

Chawla said, for resources in sectors like education and health the auction route cannot be adopted since there is an important social objective involved.

He further said that transparency in awarding the contracts or licences - whether or not through auction - is the key. The awards of the contracts should be based on "certain rule-based framework...well articulated and known to the people".

He said most of the policies are done though executive framework which is "not grounded in any kind" and the rules can be interpreted in different ways.

Asked whether bureaucrats are responsible for the opaque rules, Chawla said, "You can, of course, blame bureaucrats or anybody, but in such matters they have limited power and authority because ultimately it is the decision of the political executive either in the ministry or in a cabinet committee or the Cabinet".