February 16, 2012

Who’s really shortchanging who in India?

Sir, David Pilling in “India’s ‘bumble bee’ defies gravity”, February 16, writes: “By selling the licences on the cheap, the telecom ministry is accused of shortchanging the exchequer to the tune of $39bn.” 

Indeed, but, one could just as well argue that if selling the licenses for $39bn more, the exchequer would then be shortchanging the mobile telephone users, to the tune of $39bn plus expected returns more in fees, and over a very long time. 

In other words the $39bn are equal to taxes collected in advance,to be paid by users that are not even aware of it, meaning something which is not an example of transparency. 

In other words the $39bn will have to be repaid at the rate of return required by the telecom investor, rather than at the usually lower interest paid by the government on its public debt, meaning something which is not an example of economic rationality.