Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das on Tuesday stuck to the Budget figure of mopping up around Rs 99,000 crore from spectrum auctions in May-June. Sticking to the estimates, seen as “overambitious” by the industry and has been highlighted by FE, Das had said, “So far as spectrum is concerned, there are broadly three components. One is licence fee which is about Rs 20,000 crore, then you have auctions which would yield about Rs 55,000-60,000 crore (past auctions and auctions next year) and there are some arrears of about Rs 40,000 crore. So the estimates are realistic.”
But that’s not quite true. If one collates the major dues from the industry, the amount falls far short of the Rs 40,000 crore, Das mentioned. It, in fact, comes to around Rs 24,788 crore. While Das did not mention the components of the such arrears, department of telecommunications records show that a bulk of Rs 22,943 crore is due from operators as one-time spectrum charge. Apart from this, another major component is of Rs 1,845 crore which the government had demanded from telcos for under-reporting their revenues after conducting a special audit in 2010-2011.
Operators have obtained a stay order on both these demands from various high courts in the country and the matter is sub judice so it is exactly not clear how the government plans to realise this from the operators within FY17.
Further, of the Rs 22,943 crore that is due as one-time spectrum fee for spectrum held beyond 4.4 MHz, operators are required to pay the same in instalments rather than at one go, so even if one assumes the best-case scenario that the government wins the case, the entire amount will not flow into its coffer at one go.