Pawar to head eGoM to decide on modalities for spectrum auctions

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 30 2012, 07:52am hrs
Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar will now head the empowered group of ministers (eGoM) tasked with deciding the modalities of the upcoming spectrum auctions. A senior official in the department of telecommunication confirmed that orders to this effect have been issued.

The eGoM under Pawar is slated to meet on July 3 to thrash out the pending decisions on the issue of deferred payment, spectrum mortgage, the rollout obligations and, most crucial of all, the reserve price.

Pawar, being a senior member of the Union Cabinet, will replace former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee who stepped down from both finance ministry and the chairmanship of several eGoMs and GoMs earlier this week to participate in the July Presidential elections.

Sources said defence minister AK Antony was also in the race to head the eGoM, being the senior-most member of the inter-ministerial panel. However, Pawar was chosen for the post over Antony to maintain neutrality, sources said. Antony as the defence minister is also an affected party on spectrum-related issues.

The July 2 meeting will also be the eGoM's first meeting after the telecom regulator submitted its 'impact analysis' report on the effect of its reserve price in case the government were to accept it. The regulator, in its recommendations dated April 23, had recommended that the government fix the reserve price of each mega hertz of spectrum at R3,622 crore in 2G spectrum auctions.

Given the industry's furore over this reserve price, the regulator at the behest of the telecom commission submitted its analysis of how this reserve price will affect the health of the telecom industry, the telecom subscribers and the government's revenue, if the entire burden was either absorbed by the telecom operators or if it was passed on to the consumers.