Telecom EGoM to meet for spectrum pricing policy next week

Written by feBureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 4 2013, 06:54am hrs
The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on telecom, headed by finance minister P Chidambaram, is expected to meet next week to decide the pricing policy for the third round of spectrum auction.

The government plans to hold another sale of radiowaves by July-August to garner around R40,847 crore of non-tax revenues for the exchequer in this fiscal.

"The EGoM may meet within a week," Kapil Sibal, telecom minister told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event. He did not provide any additional details.

In February, the Supreme Court had directed the government to auction all the airwaves that were freed up following the cancellation of 122 2G licences. To comply with the order, the DoT has to initiate the third round of sale in at least 20 circles.

The panel of ministers is required to decide whether the base price should be further reduced for GSM spectrum. On the reserve price issue, the DoT had earlier proposed to the EGoM three options, including not changing the price at all or asking the telecom regulator to give fresh recommendations.

Sibal also criticised the judiciary for the troubles faced by the telecom sector. "The Supreme Court ensured that the golden goose will not lay golden eggs for a while," said Sibal. He added that between 2010 and 2013, the once robust sector has an accumulated debt of over R2,50,000 crore and the government has been able to garner only R1,000 crore as revenues from telecom sector. "Due to interference from courts, there has been no benefit for the sector or government," said Sibal.

The government could only raise only about R9,400 crore in the first round of auctions last November. It was subsequently forced to cancel a second round for GSM operators due to lack of response, despite lowering the bid price.

The government will only get R1,000 crore in the current fiscal from the November 2012 auctions as the remaining amount will be paid over the next 12 years.